Putting marriage in perspective

Putting marriage in perspective


A lasting relationship?

Many couples believe that marriage is for ever and that when they get married they will end up retiring, remaining together as a couple. Unfortunately, that is increasingly less likely to be the case. It is increasingly common for divorce to occur within the first year or two of marriage. Moreover, couples who have been married for years are much more likely to get a divorce than in previous decades. Couples in their 40s and 50s, and even couples in the ‘golden years’ of marriage are a demographic which is increasingly experiencing divorce. The average marriage lasts only eleven years in contemporary Britain.

One reason for this is the increased expectations that older couples, in particular, place on their marriages. When the children leave home many couples suffer from what is known as ‘empty nest’ syndrome. The time that they spent on their children, now released as free time, allows them to review and look again at their relationships. They may also have more disposable income to spend on their own needs. This increased freedom, paradoxically can put strain on a relationship and can even cause separation and divorce.

Some comparisons

Unlike marriage, some financial and commercial relationships can be long lasting. People often stay with their bank for longer than they stay with their married partner. According to recent research, half of UK customers have never changed their bank. The average time that people keep money in the same current account is nearly 50% longer than the time that they spend married, with most people keeping their relationship going with the same bank for 17 years.

It is not just banks that customers stay loyal to. When it comes to personal services, people do not wish to change their hairdresser or barber. Most people stay with the same hairdressers, or barbers, for their adult life. This is because of the close personal bond that can be formed between a hairdresser and her, or his, clients.

Despite the often painful nature of their treatments, many people also stay with the same dentist for long periods of time. In a recent survey, more than half of people questioned stated that they had remained with the same dentist for five years or more.
Even when it comes to less personal services, such as mobile phones and utilities, customers are still loyal to the same supplier. In terms of mobile phones, a quarter of customers have never changed their provider. This rises to nearly 40% when utilities are concerned. Gym memberships and mortgages are other areas where customer loyalty is extremely high.


When it comes to commercial relationships, people are often ‘risk averse’ considering what would be lost by changing their provider, or service, when it comes to making a decision. In contrast, they do not look at the benefits of switching. Although it may be crude to apply such a model to divorce, people also look at the costs and benefits of this decision. However, often there is a difference between the perceived and actual costs and benefits of a decision. This is where a service like mediation can help couples to make informed choices about their future after divorce.

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