Monday, 12 December 2011

Couples choose to cohabit rather than marry.

With record breaking marriage times as short as Kim Kardashian’s that lasted 72 days and Britney Spears which lasted less than 55 hours, you have to wonder if people take marriage seriously anymore. Sometimes it isn’t that simple. 

The Office for National Statistics recorded the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2010 at 119, 589 with the number of divorces highest amongst men and woman aged 40 to 44. This was an increase of 4.9 percent since 2009 when there were 113, 949 divorces.

Relate for Parents is one of many online and face-to-face services used by families and couples going through divorces, relationship breakdown, communication and parenting issues as well as trust problems. It is the largest relationship counselling organisation in the UK and has been running for three years. Help and support online is offered through live web chat and email, other services include face-to-face appointments and telephone conversations. They have over 600 locations in the UK, each with their own team of counsellors. The central office has a team of 20 workers. Relate Response is the Relate for Parents call handling department, and deals with about 15,000 calls as well as 1800 emails and messages via live chat a month. 

Helen Pittard, 42, a Solicitor from Broughton, explains the general steps you go through during a divorce. “First my client and I will prepare and issue a divorce petition. The court will then serve the respondent who will then file an acknowledgement of service at court to confirm whether he or she will defend the case. Next the petitioner applies for the matter to be placed in the special procedure list for the pronouncement to the decree nisi. This means over the next six weeks and one day anyone can object to the court. The last step is after the six weeks and one day the petitioner will apply for the decree of absolute which dissolves the marriage.”

Diane Casey, 46, a Practice Counselor who works in Broughton, has been a working as counsellor since 2003 when she graduated from Chester University with a postgraduate in counselling. “I have always had a particular interest in the psychological and emotional care of patients. I have always felt like this is an area of my practice that I was particularly good at whilst working as a Regional General Nurse,” she said. 

Mrs Casey went on to tell me that she thought working as a counselor does have an emotional strain on a daily basis, but takes time to care for herself, “I have learnt to care for myself and give my self compassion.” She also attends counsellor supervision meetings twice a month where she talks about any of her own feelings. “This service is invaluable, it ensures I always work professionally and therapeutically with each client, having a life outside of the counselling room is important too, an equilibrium is essential!” she said. Miss Pittard reveals she deals differently with the emotional and mental effects her job may have. Although she generally finds her job rewarding, she admits the emotions are sometimes difficult to manage which normally brings on stress. “Overcoming clients issues and finding solutions for their problems help me overcome these effects. It is always important to remember whilst the client may exhibit anger it is not personally aimed at me personally.” 

Mrs Casey deals with clients who are going through or have gone through different relationship problems. “I have had experiences of individuals who are either going through divorce, who have just been through a divorce- which includes many years after and adult survivors of divorce. As a counsellor it is really important for me to allow the person space to explore their own feelings in response to the divorce,” she said. 

The client has to move therapeutically through their own feelings to make sense of them. Divorce can sometimes be experienced as a ‘loss’ in a persons life which will be dealt with through a grieving process in their own individual way. The grieving process will not only be for the parter they have lost but for their family life too, recovering from a divorce means needing to let go and readjust into a different life, this could be very difficult. Emotions run high with feelings of despair, hurt, anger, betrayal and loneliness, this could have a ripple effect which could lead to social, financial problems and loss of other relationships as well as relationships with their own children. “It is also important to remember we are all individuals and each situation is different from person to person. Everyone reacts and responds emotionally in their own personal and individual way,” said Mrs Casey.

Miss Pittard has dealt with approximately 12 divorces over the last six months but says that she feels the majority of people who enter a marriage ceremony intend to be in that relationship for life. “I believe the difficulty is people do not necessarily work at maintaining relationships when difficulties arise,” she said. Instead she feels a dissolution of marriage is seen as an easy and socially acceptable way to escape a relationship that is going through problems. 

Celebrities are rich, famous and are looked up to by millions of people. This causes people to mimic them as a kind of hero. Miss Pittard said, although there has been an increase in the divorce rate over the last decade she feels that statistically the rate is starting to plateau. “The reason for this is that more people are choosing to cohabit rather than marry,” she said.

An example of such relationship is that of Kath Ashcroft, 35, a invoicing supervisor from Broughton who has been living with her partner, Colin Parry, 48, from Liverpool for 19 years. They have not gotten married and have a daughter together, Charlotte Parry-Ashcroft, 13. “We planned to get married but time just passed us by and we haven’t,” said Miss Ashcroft. Now that they have been together for so long she said they do not see the point now as they live like a married couple would anyway. 

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