Last weekend I was driving my daughter and a friend to a pool (swim, not snooker) party and the girls were discussing why the venue had been chosen. Probably because it is half way between where her mum lives and her dad lives was the conclusion. "----'s parents have split up ?" I ask. News to me. But then most of what goes on in the days and lives of locals is. "Yes," Sam's friend replied."Sam and I are about the only one whose parents are still together."
Maybe I get an unrepresentative view. Maybe more people in 'rich' neighbourhoods split because they can afford to; in 'poor' neighbourhooods they never formalised their relationship in the first place. Maybe there is a large group in the middle acting like my parent's generation. Staying together, happy or otherwise, because they have no choice. Perhaps relationships are now as impermanent as jobs and careers. Or were people more satisfied with their relationships 40 or 50 years ago?
I tend to the latter view. People now have unrealistic expectations of marriage being based on romantic love. Perhaps because they live on a diet of glossies and TV. I don't and didn't, either the first or second. My approach to marriage was very pragmatic. I knew what I didn't want (to be controlled or restricted) and spotted it in my husband. I wanted a highly intelligent partner and spotted in in my husband. Certainly my first attraction to him was physical but that lust stuff wears off over years. Is that where most (but not all) marriages come unstuck? People still seem to want to mate for life but the desire to make it happen doesn't win the day.
I will show my prejudice by admitting that I hope whoever my own children pick as a partner comes from parents with a stable enduring relationship. That is then their template for life. And whether or not you think it important that kids have parents who live together, relationship break-ups are often hellish, sometimes worse than deaths and scar people permanently. As necessary as they sometimes are, they add to the sum of life's unhappiness.
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