There were over 100,000 divorces in England and Wales last year. Thank goodness for that; finally a statistic that cannot be explained away as ‘due to coronavirus’ I think those couples should proud of themselves. They didn’t need a shitty old pandemic to be sick of the sight of each other – they became sick of the sight of each other all by themselves. It’s a lot of couples though, 100,000. That’s 200,000 people when you think about it a bit harder. I wonder how they feel, after all the anguish and stress, to end up as just another statistic: a statistic living in a bedsit and fighting over the last of the cutlery. I hope I don’t end up divorced, but I shouldn’t really say that because Wifey will only say I’ve ‘jinxed it’. I’m always jinxing it. So I’m told.
The statistics go further, if you’d like to read me stealing someone else’s hard work. That 100,000 is actually 107,599, which is quite a big difference when you look at it, y’know, statistically. I imagine the last 7,599 couples were probably drifting through December 2019 and thinking they might get away with it, before divorce came knocking and ruined their Christmas anyway. Pesky old divorce, has it no manners? I expect it’s what we should have expected anyway – the strain of Christmas on any marriage is bound to be substantial and it doesn’t help that the most ‘wonderful time of the year’ is often also the bleakest, particularly for the unluckiest. Or anyone who married the wrong person.
The statistics mislead further because that fat figure only represents heterosexual couples. In 2019 there were 822 same-sex divorces, but I’m not sure why it should make any difference. Well, granted, it makes a difference because there is a difference. A huge one. According to the facts the heterosexual divorce rate increased by 18.4% over the 2018 figure whereas the same-sex number almost doubled in the same period. That is quite a yawning gap and there are two ways of approaching it. My first thought is what a waste. The same-sex marriage lobby worked long and hard to secure their rights in the eyes of the law but only a few years after the freedom they craved and deserved was granted they’re now racking up more divorces than Liz Taylor on a slump. Such a shame; like a kid begging for an ice cream and then dropping it in dog dirt after a couple of sticky licks. My second thought is why not just lump all those divorces together? Does it matter what combination a marriage is, as long as it’s not a father and his daughter or some other warped pairing? A wedding is a wedding and a marriage is a marriage – yours to mess up on your terms.
There are a few other points of interest. Unreasonable behaviour was the most cited cause for divorce, though I imagine unreasonable behaviour could easily range from not emptying the dishwasher to grievous bodily harm. Roughly a third of husbands petition for divorce on these grounds but for wives it’s almost half, which would suggest that men are harder to live with than women, something I might relate to if only living with me wasn’t such a breeze. Lying aside, all assumption is rendered empty with the news that in same-sex marriages 72% of divorces were between female couples, which means that perhaps women can be a bit tricky as well. Well I never.
As for that loved up man on man action, well a massive 70% of them divorce for that same some form of unreasonable behaviour or other, and so the sadness rolls on just as hastily as all those badly judged nuptials. So that means that technically speaking women are more reasonable towards each other but just don’t like being together all that much, whereas men like being with each other more, even though they tend to treat each other in a less than ungentlemanly manner. Or something like that, I’m getting lost in numbers and implications. The last remaining fact to indulge you with is that the Citizens Advice divorce website had plenty of time on its hands before April this year but has now had a 25% spike in interest compared to this time last year, and that means that all this lockdown furlough shit is really taking a toll.
But at least this increase in couples that are thinking about ending it all (as in the marriage) can take some comfort that they never stood a chance when up against the single greatest social and economic inconvenience post war society has seen. I’m no expert on the matter and I certainly have no idea what makes a happy marriage (unless it’s gritting your teeth and saying sorry once in a while, even when you don’t really mean it) but I’m pleased to say I got through the first lockdown alright and this one seems like a breeze by comparison (so far, that is). For this one year only the courts may allow some leniency and rather than use terms like unreasonable behaviour or irreconcilable differences they can just let all those couples tick a box named ‘due to coronavirus’ and be done with it. At a time when that is used as the reason for pretty much everything else why not let the divorcers use it too? Ah well, best get going. Wifey is behaving, but I’m not sure she’s being reasonable about it.
G B Hewitt. 17.11.2020