Denis Kilcommons: Secrets of a long and happy marriage

AFTER 10 years of marriage, the divorce rate for celebrities is 40%.

Denis Kilcommons: Secrets of a long and happy marriage

AFTER 10 years of marriage, the divorce rate for celebrities is 40%. For the rest of us it’s 20%.

This is according to a report from The Marriage Foundation that says that celebrity culture gives unrealistic, fairy-tale expectations about marriage and relationships. Particularly among celebrity couples.

A 40% divorce rate after 10 years seems a bit high. Perhaps the figure has been distorted by such well known brides as Britney Spears (inset), who was once married for 55 hours and Sinead O’Connor (18 days).

Marriage Foundation founder Sir Paul Coleridge said celebrities should not be treated as role models.

“Aspiration for happiness built on celebrity lifestyle is, it seems, dangerously flawed,” he says.

Perhaps young people would have more chance of marital longevity if they modelled a future together as a couple on Andy Capp.

The workshy cartoon character may well drink too much and sleep a lot but he and Flo have been together since 1957.

And Andy and Flo are not the only celebs who have remained true through thick and thin. Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne have been married 58 years, Barry and Linda Gibbs for 40 years and Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach for 31 years.

“Commitment, responsibility and stability simply don’t make good headlines,” says the report. “That’s why Cate Blanchett (happily married for 15 years) will always lose the OK cover to Katie Price. It’s why more teenagers know Kim Kardashian (marriage lasted 72 days) than triple Oscar winner Meryl Streep (whose marriage has lasted over two decades).”

Some celebrities, it seems, will take wedding vows simply to get a big payday from a glossy magazine.

And while the marriages of ordinary folk last longer, they still accept divorce as a way out of an untenable situation.

Older people may say: “It was different in our day. Marriages were made to last.”

As Jack was saying down in the pub the other night: “It’s my golden wedding on Saturday. For our silver wedding, I took the wife shopping in Sheffield.”

“What will you do on Sunday, then?”

He took a ruminative drink from his pint and said: “I think I might go and bring her back.”

In truth, times have changed. Many couples were trapped in bad marriages in the past because divorce was difficult and expensive and carried a social stigma.

The number of divorces granted in the 1960s in the UK was about 30,000 a year.

The Divorce Reform Act, that made divorce cheaper and easier, came into effect in 1971 and divorces immediately went up to 125,000.

Today, two in five marriages end in divorce.

Making the process easier obviously contributed to divorce rates but changing attitudes were also a factor.

Women were better educated and no longer prepared to accept a traditional role of subservient wife. They had jobs and careers and demanded an equal partnership and, if that was not forthcoming, they were able to support themselves if the marriage broke up.

Divorce rates haven’t changed much in recent years, even though divorce has got even easier. Internet companies offer do-it-yourself quickie divorces online for £16.99. Before long, you’ll be able to buy a divorce in the Pound Shop.

Mind you, this doesn’t bother me and my wife Maria.

We long ago discovered the secret of a happy marriage. It’s a romantic dinner for two, once a week. I go Tuesdays and she goes Thursdays.

 

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