I read a really depressing story in the news on Thursday. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 45% of British marriages are now ending in divorce. It’s not that I’m particularly worried about the state of the country’s moral or social wellbeing. No, mine is a far more selfish despair; I’m getting married this year. And so are two of my EML colleagues and one of my relatives (not to each other I might add, that’s how rumours are spread). So by those figures at least one if not two of our happy couples are destined for failure. I suppose the good news is that we EMLers are doing our part to boost the falling numbers of people getting married in the first place – as statistics from Wednesday also revealed.
I started wondering what could be done to help improve these figures? Maybe marriage needs a PR-job? What do we know about marriage from the press – well, if we look at the Pop world the Paul McCartney/ Heather Mills mess doesn’t speak well for wedded bliss. Neither do the well-publicised recent antics of footballer, Ashley Cole (his alleged affair, not his ref-bashing).
Are there any positive role models for a long and happy married life in the UK? How about the Queen and Prince Phillip? On second thoughts, maybe the royals aren’t the best place to go for marriage guidance…. they have something of a history, what with great great great great (etc) Grandad ‘inventing’ divorce in the UK and chopping off the heads of anyone else he lost interest in…
OK, how about in the land of TV? The soaps are a hotbed of scandal, affairs, abuse and bodies under the patios. In sitcoms, One Foot in The Grave or Keeping Up Appearances, the couples seem to have been married forever, but I’m not sure that’s the kind of married life I want to look forward to. Newly weds Gavin and Stacey don’t look like they’re in for an easy ride either.
Best not even get started on Hollywood…
Surely there must be one positive example of marriage in the public eye? One that represents all the good things like love and respect and support, and that has managed to get past the magical 10-year point at which, the ONS informs us, we stand a chance of remaining together till death us do part (preferably in the long distant future and of natural causes rather than some melodramatic plane crash/dumping in rivers/pushing down stairs or off cliff). The only instance I can think of is Lenny Henry and Dawn French and even that has come under suspicion since Lenny started those dreadful hotel adverts (why does he need to spend so much time in hotels all of a sudden?).
Why don’t the registrars (who must surely be losing stacks of money if the number of weddings is dropping) get working on a PR campaign to demonstrate the benefits of a good marriage? There must be stats to show that a happy marriage is good for our wellbeing? What about financial benefits? Oh! I’ve got it!
My hubby and me are going to move to Surbiton and be Tom and Barbara from the good life. I’ll keep doing my PR job, but from September onwards, all press releases will have to be written using home made inks on parchment made from hand-woven parchment. Fresh eggs for breakfast every morning and a pig shed to send Mr Jo to when he doesn’t wash up. Bliss!