DIVORCE DAY, the name given to the first working day of each new year, is no misnomer. More couples begin their break-ups at New Year than at any other time.
Figures suggest that almost one in five married couples stay together over the Christmas period while considering ending their marriage when the holiday ends. A recent January saw searches for the word ‘divorce’ on the Ministry of Justice website almost double.
There’s no shortage of opinion when it comes to divorce. One survey commissioned by lawyers blames irritating habits which, it insists, are responsible for more break-ups than adultery. I would question that! The habits may provide the excuse but they didn’t start the rot.
When you’re in love his habit of pulling on his earlobe thrills you; in the same way, her twiddling her hair is arousing. If love dies, those same habits becomes the idiosyncracies that make you reach for the carving knife.
So how should we behave when love dies? A good marriage is the nearest thing you’ll get to Heaven on earth. Sadly, a bad marriage is the nearest thing to Hell and better ended in a civilised manner. But here again experts’ views differ, particularly where children are involved.
Sir Paul Coleridge presided over Family Courts for a decade and then founded the Marriage Foundation, which champions long-lasting, stable relationships. He says “I’ve become more convinced than ever that no child ever wants to see his or her parents separate.
“That is true even if the split was preceded by rows and tension: to a child of any age, almost any amount of fighting is preferable to splitting up the family.”
So what would he have said to the adolescent who wrote to tell me that when her parents rowed she would kneel down behind the living room door and pray that they would separate?
Or to the adult who believed the warfare in his childhood home had led to him shirking a relationship of his own?
We get figures on how a child’s development can suffer after divorce but no expert has yet produced figures on the effects of growing up in a domestic ‘war zone’ or, worse still, an icy atmosphere in which two people are trying to avoid one another ‘until the kids are old enough for us to split’?
As we move into Divorce Week 2016 the drama of Madonna’s son Rocco and his supposed wish to be with his father, director Guy Ritchie, rather than with his mother is being played out for all to see in the media and on the internet.
I believe in divorce when all efforts to remedy a relationship have failed. But I’m also sure that parents who love their children should be facing one another across the mediation table rather than posting pictures on Facebook.
DENISE ROBERTSON, MBE is a writer and columnist who is better known as the resident agony aunt on ITV’s This Morning since its debut in 1988. She has an advice website, <DearDenise.com>