11-Year Itch.

Hey,

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Are you well? And Happy?

I very much hope that you are.

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I feel a lot better now.

I can breathe properly and I feel almost normal, just very tired.

Hopefully Big H has not caught ‘flu from me so that is very encouraging because when his white cell blood count is very low he catches everything that is going,,,,,,except STD’s of course…….that he could not get away with!

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Once again an item in The Sunday Times started me off on another round of enjoyable research

It gave me facts regarding interesting information that has been released by the Office For National Statistics (ONS).

It has caused great debate because it’s findings show that the 7-year itch in marriage has changed to an 11-year itch now.

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The resulting debate has been between those who believe that marriage is a forever union, leading to stability within a society, and those who think that it is a civil contract that should be for renewable lengths of time.

These latter people putting forward the premise that long term partnership is a modern construct because in medieval times the reason marriage was until death was a simple one.

People died early then and a marriage would last 11-15 years before one of them died.

They therefore say that the natural life of a relationship is 11 years, so expecting people to remain together, happily married for many decades, is counter to all the evidence of previous history.

Malcolm Brynin, a co-author of a new book called ‘Changing Relationships’, agrees with the premise that marriage is a contract where people stay together for only as long as it is to their individual advantage.

He has based his findings on 5 years of research into family life, published by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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The Cultural Historians seem to believe that there was a long period of history, and pre-history, where no-one at all experienced what is now known as romantic love.

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The opposite viewpoint is that when a couple marry they should wish to stay together, because if marriage is approached with the expectation of it only lasting about 11 years, then there is no point, as problems will not be surmounted in the way they are if a couple have long term expectations and plans.

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The actual ONS figures showed that the number of marriages in the UK in 2007 was 270,00.

A lot less than the 426,100 weddings in 1940.

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This is interesting and seems to say that the rate of marriage went down greatly in the 50 years since the 1940’s, but this bare statement of facts does not perhaps allow for the fact that the country was at war then, and people were operating under a different set of impulses.

When people can die at any time they wish to have sex regardless of the risks of pregnancy, and to procreate, and thoughts of the present are stronger than thoughts of the future.

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The 2007 figures show that 144,220 marriages ended in divorce,  the average length of marriages ending in divorce being 11.5 years.

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There is a new book available from author Michael Buchanan, called ‘The marriage Delusion’, which also puts forward the premise that nature never intended humans to remain together for sixty or seventy years.

He thinks it an unnatural expectation to think that people can sustain interest in each other for so long a time.

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Some clinical psychologists dealing with those who are married, agree that problems can occur around the 10-15 year point,when tensions between the couples can prove to be insurmountable.

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Frank Tallis, a one point a neuroscientist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, has written a book called ‘Love Sick’, his argument being that nature intends humans to fall in love purely as an evolutionary means of holding together a pair until their offspring are grown.

After this period they would be free to move on.

Obviously these new figures would fit with this reasoning.

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Of course romantic love is a modern, Western, invention, as opinions gradually changed from the 18th century onwards  and these trends caused parents to allow their children some say in who they wished to marry, thus allowing for emotional attachments to form.

In the East, there are still arranged marriages between people who have never set eyes upon each other before, and where the female is still subject to the male, and can be killed if it is seen as being necessary to his or the family’s honour.

Some poor women being so ill treated by a husband and his family that they kill themselves as it is the only way out of a life of pain and misery.

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In 1726 Daniel Defoe said that he didn’t take the state of matrimony to be designed so that the wife is to be used as an upper servant in the house, as love knows no superior or inferior, no imperial command on the one hand and no reluctant subjugation on the other.

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In the American Colonies people wrote letters describing the development of Compassionate Marriage.

The distinguishing feature being that married couples expected some emotional connection, viewing each other not only as sexual partners joined in an economic undertaking but as ‘bosom friends’.

From then this became more and more the basis of marriages.

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Myself, I think that we are lucky now, in that we can choose to marry those that we love, those whom we find suit us and our needs.

The hard part is for people, who now think that everything should be easy, and that it is a throwaway society in every way, to nurture their relationship and put the necessary energy into it to keep it fresh and alive.

Without the input of energy you will find entrophy.

It is precious and cannot just be taken for granted.

Even in nature some animals mate for life.  those such as Swans, Wolves, Bald and Golden Eagles, Condors, Gibbon Apes and apparently even the unattractively named Shingleback Skink has only one mate for life but separates once the mating season is over.

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Myself, I think that a long term relationship is a wonderful thing in that you are with someone who knows all your faults and loves you still.

Someone who is always there for you, someone with whom you have a safe refuge from a sometimes cruel world.

Someone who knew and remembers you in your prime, and who, if you are truly lucky, still sees you that way.

Someone who remembers every detail of family history from the very beginning and who knows all the family in-jokes.

Someone with whom you can be exactly who you really are.  Perhaps the only person.

it is not to be sniffed at, and loneliness is a real and painful thing for many people.

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What do you think of it all?

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J.x

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