In what could signal the start of a major shift in attitudes towards marriage and divorce, accounting firm Grant Thornton released a report last week confirming that the new #1 reason for divorce in the UK is “growing apart.”
Since 2003, when the firm began tracking why couples were untying the knot, that old staple known by so many court documents as extramarital affairs had consistently earned top honors.
But now, growing apart has edged its way to the top, striking a chord with 27% of those surveyed (compared to 25% for extramarital affairs).
Also making the dubious list were unreasonable behavior (17%) and a suffering from a mid-life crisis (10%), respectively.
Interestingly, the new divorce-cause leader board may not be due to a surge in couples growing apart, but instead, more of them deciding to stick it out when one (or both) spouses stray to non-marital beds.
And who’s to thank — or blame — for this possible trend? Celebrities, of course.
“We are seeing an increasing number of ‘celebrities‘ putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship…” commented Louisa Plumb, associate director, forensic and investigation services at Grant Thornton. “It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behavior of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity.”
Counselor Christine Northam, who works with couples experiencing relationship obstacles, has a different take – she thinks that the some couples no longer need to symbolize, validate or signify the problems in their marriage by having an affair; they can just say “I’m unhappy” and that’s a valid reason unto itself.
“While in the past an affair would have been the signal that all was not right in a relationship, now that is not necessarily the case,” Northman commented. “People are not necessarily having those affairs before they decide the spark has gone out of their relationship.”
And of course, there’s always the economy to throw a wrench into the best laid surveys and make results harder to interpret – and this one’s not immune.
“While the economy has officially been out of recession for over a year, there are still clear indicators that financial concerns are one of the driving factors in both the timing of divorces and the settlements that have been awarded,” commented Geoff Mesher, also of Grant Thornton. “With cuts in public spending and the economy continuing to falter, it would be unsurprising to see a continuation of this trend as asset values and income levels remain unpredictable.”
Source: The Guardian