Youth may be the ideal time for reproduction physically, but it is not necessarily the best time to establish a lifelong partnership. Communications between the two of us broke down under the pressures of family life.People change profoundly when they become parents, and now that both tend to work longer hours than ever before, they rarely find time for themselves, let alone for each other. I nagged, he refused to talk.' Those who drift inexorably apart find that in addition to feeling a deep sense of failure in marriage, there is the intractable feeling that you have failed to create a happy family as well.Yet there have been some fantastic moments in this marriage.He is the father of two wonderful children and that means a lot.' The existence of divorce doesn't destroy families; we do, with blame and righteous indignation because of the deep, searing pain of abandoning and being abandoned by love and the shame of personal failure.But then I thought, I have made my bed, I had better lie in it.'I always felt that marriage was for life, so I was determined to make it work.' Within months, however, the couple were barely talking to each other.When the children's needs are given proper consideration and priority, the fallout of divorce can be minimised, but that takes a level of maturity and sensitivity which parents living with such a high level of emotional personal trauma are not known for.Divorce may be easier now than at any time in history, but given such circumstances it is hardly surprising that most people I spoke to went through years of agonising attempts to rescue their partnership before they finally divorced.
When you consider that the end of a serious relationship is fraught with other difficulties and traumas - such as moving house, reduced financial security, often sole responsibility for children, loss of day-to-day contact with children for the non-custodial parent, increased argument with their partner and in-laws, as well as greater social isolation with the inevitable loss of friends who take sides - divorce can add up to a major life crisis.'Once we had a family, finding time to do our work was always a problem,' says divorcee Joyce. The anguish that parents feel when their relationship breaks down cannot be underestimated.It is highlighted, rendered more complicated, because of the children.Given the length of time we all live these days, with our health and sexual appetites less compromised than at any other time in history, it is unsurprising that so many couples should ride the first two peak times for separation and divorce, only to find themselves falling at the final hurdle, in midlife.Those who have stayed married for the children find that there is little now to keep them together. Until the beginning of the 20th century, most marriages ended as the children grew up, with the average life expectancy of men and women hovering between 40 and 50 years.