Posts Tagged ‘Sir Paul Coleridge’

Marriage – Unrealistic Expectations?

Sir Paul Coleridge was interviewed in the Daily Mail today saying that young people enter marriage with expectations that are unrealistic.  He cites Hallo magazine as setting up idyllic marriage scenarios which people buy into and then get disappointed that life is in fact, not like that.

I’m not sure how true that is.  We can all see that many celebrity marriages end badly and last for less time than it takes to eat the wedding cake.  I don’t think the population is fooled into believing that marriage is a bed of roses, just like we know when we watch Downton Abbey that life isn’t like that.  No-one who comes to our groups has had unrealistic expectations of love and romance.  They have tried hard to make their marriages work and often have had no voice in the decision to end it.  We may as a society like looking at glossy pictures of fairy tale weddings.  It is a form of escapism not a method of learning what marriage looks like.  Sir Paul Coleridge I feel, needs to give people some credit. 

Do we live in cloud cuckoo land?

Let’s get this in perspective.  An article in the Daily Mail today http://bit.ly/IUSTxc   quotes Sir Paul Coleridge’s view that the more we spend on weddings, the greater the family breakdown.  I simply don’t agree.  He and the writer of the article in the Daily
Mail, talk of marriage as being some sort of fairy tale perpetuated by pictures
in Hallo magazine and because that is so unrealistic, people leave their marriages when they realise the reality is very different.  I spoke about this on Channel 4 news,
debating with a spokesperson from the Marriage Foundation.  The British Public is not stupid and know very well that relationships are hard and are long term investments.  They after all, have seen their parent’s marriages and had their own long term relationships.  They know that the pictures in Hallo and other glossy magazines are a fantasy and entertainment.  No-one thinks that marriage is easy because
Jordan arrives at her wedding with a horse and carriage or because people who
can afford it hire castles and lakes for their reception.  No-one leaves their marriage easily without many years of heartache and soul searching. 
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, such as the woman
interviewed in the article today. Her husband walked out leaving just a note
after 8 months, saying he had had enough. We have no idea what was going on in his mind or his history of commitment or mental health issues.  We
can’t jump from such an example to Sir Paul Coleridge’s view that people give
us too easily and don’t make the proper investment.  Most people do invest properly and go in for the long term, through thick and think. Only when things have not worked out and people have not been heard and couple therapy has not worked, after many
years of trying do people take the tortuous decision to leave.  Everyone knows divorce is bereavement, so people don’t jump into that pond without much thought and anguish.  Give all those who divorce some credit for understanding something about themselves and about the big bad world around them.

Do people give up on marriage too easily?

This morning Sir Paul Coleridge said, that having adjudicated on hundreds of divorces he wants to let people know that they shouldn’t give up so easily on their marriages. His view is that divorce is the scourge of our generation.  I am not sure if it is a scourge but it is pretty much common place.  I and other therapists working with Divorce Support Group see hundreds of people suffering from the impact of divorce and separation. The impact is devastating and has repercussions and consequences for not only the individuals themselves but also for children,grandchildren,grandparents,friends and other family members.  The
consequences of divorce can last, if not negotiated properly a very longtime.  Do I agree then, that people should work harder on their marriages? No-one I have seen over very many years, has ever left their marriage easily.  Those who have been left have no choice because their partner has simply made the decision for both ofthem.  Those who have done the leaving have not done so lightly.  Usually, therehave been many years of unhappiness, where couple counselling has been sought and tried, where the couple have tried and tried again to make it work.  I just don’t see that people choose to walk out on a marriage in an easy way, like choosing a new pair of shoes or which country to visit for a holiday.  It’s not like that.  It is really important that if it is possible to stay together then it’s best if they can but if it’s not, then an amicable reasonable divorce is what needs to happen.  Years ago, people spent lifetimes in unhappy relationships.  Now they don’t.  People are free of societal expectation and can therefore leave.  That doesn’t mean that it is done easily.