Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Fewer women seek divorce because their husbands have a more realistic expectation of marriage
The number of wives seeking a divorce within five years of marriage has dropped over the last three decades, research indicates.
New research has found that just 4.2 per cent of wives have demanded an end to their marriages within the first five years, the lowest level since 1973 and close to half the rate it was in 1986.
According to campaign group the Marriage Foundation, women are over four times more likely than men to ask for a divorce during the first few years.
Marriage Foundation research director Harry Benson said: “In the 1990s, a man was under social pressure from his family or friends. So he enters marriage under a certain amount of duress, without ever fully buying into it.
“So as long as things are good, he is broadly content with his new arrangement, but over time, and perhaps with the arrival of a baby, inevitable little conflicts emerge.
“Instead of dealing with them responsibly, he feels less constrained in the way he behaves because he never really bought into a long-term plan. She becomes aware of his indifference and pulls the plug.”
In 2013, 114,720 couples divorced, down by more than 50,000 from the peak of 165,018 in 1993.
Sir Paul Coleridge, founder of the Marriage Foundation, commissioned the data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which distinguishes between divorces instigated by husbands and wives.
“The scale of the decrease in women filing for divorce suggests that ‘men doing better’ must be a significant factor,” Sir Coleridge told The Sunday Times.
The former High Court judge said that while he welcomed the decrease, he was still concerned that “so many fewer couples are marrying now than they were in the 1980s”.
This was a worry because, over the course of his career in the Family Court, he had seen “how much children who undergo family breakdown suffer”. He maintained that “married couples have a far greater chance of avoiding family breakdown than cohabiting couples”.
A “vast majority of young people aspire to get married”, he claimed, adding that it was important “for far more of them to put their instinctive desire into practice”.
The proportion of men seeking to part in the same period also dropped from three per cent of those who wed in 1993 to 2.2 per cent for those married in 2008 and seeking a divorce by 2013.
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