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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
I was interested to read some research by Co-op Legal Services around the reasons why couples choose to divorce in the UK. I wasn’t unduly surprised that top of the list was “An inappropriate relationship with someone else” but quite what that means I am not too sure. Thinking about it though, I do speak to more and more people who are having cyber relationships outside of their marriage, so maybe they qualify as ‘inappropriate’, even though the two people concerned may have never physically laid a hand on one another!
Other reasons for divorce were; growing apart, falling out of love, no longer fancying a partner, disagreement on whether to have children or not, work commitments, drug/alcohol abuse, wanting to relocate, nothing left in common and illness. Call me old fashioned if you like, but surely if couples were prepared to put a little time and effort into their relationship and maybe occasionally talk to one another, some of these ‘problems’ could be sorted out? Having worked as a relationship therapist for 20 years I do believe that sometimes relationships naturally come to an end but equally I think that people can forget to recognise the positives in a relationship. They can become very expert in identifying any negatives and all too readily embark on the divorce journey.
I was also surprised that apart from substance and alcohol abuse, no other forms of abuse were included in the top ten reasons. I seem to regularly speak to people who have lived with an abusive partner, sometimes for many years and I would like a pound for every time that I have heard, “…I never realised I was being abused...” Sadly for some it becomes so much a part of their everyday life they just believe it is quite normal. Perhaps that is the case for some of the people that Co-op Legal Services interviewed or maybe I am being cynical and imagining that abuse is more commonplace than it actually is.
When I worked for Relate counsellors had to complete an initial assessment with clients and at the end of it tick some boxes identifying why couples were coming in to therapy. I believe the box that most of us ticked most often was ‘communication difficulties’, yet nothing alluding to this problem is listed in the Top Ten. Is it the chicken and the egg situation, I wonder? Do couples stop talking because they have nothing in common/no longer feel in love/have grown apart etc. etc. or do these problems occur because they no longer talk to each other? I do know that when I offer sex therapy to clients it is the norm that they don’t talk to each other about their sex life, it has become ‘the elephant in the room’. Maybe it is the same with these other issues, it’s easier to try and ignore them.
I think the issues that have been listed as reasons for divorce are authentic and truly what the individuals believe caused the demise of their relationship but as a therapist I would be interested in scratching beneath the surface to see what lies beneath.
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