Volume 91, Issue 25

Thursday, October 9, 1997

about face


Wedding bells likely to crack after five years

By Ian C. Robertson
Gazette Staff

Are you and your sweetheart anxious to run off and tie the knot? Canadians may want to put a little more thought into matrimony decisions as a recent Statistics Canada report revealed divorses are most likely to occur after a couples' fifth anniversary.

The report said in 1990 approximately four out of every 10 couples married just over five years sought to obtain a divorce. It noted this number has not changed dramatically in the '90s but was higher than in the '80s.

"Under the Divorce Act of 1985, marriage breakdown became the only grounds for divorce and the evidence required to support this claim was reduced," the report stated.

This resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of divorces because of the ease in which one could now be obtained. StatsCan also stressed those in their mid to late 20s are the most susceptible to divorce.

Jane Gentleman, co-author of the study, said this was the first time StatsCan focused on the exact year marriages were most likely to break up and therefore was hard to contrast with previous years. However, the report noted this data is extremely relevant in helping analysis of family dissolution in the '90s.

Rose Marie Jaco, an associate professor of social work at King's College, said she has noticed people are less willing to stay with a marital situation which does not please them.

Particularly in the first few years, couples have a lot of learning to do in terms of compensating and resolution, Jaco said. She added marriage in these early years requires a lot of maturity and commitment by both spouses. "The key to a good marriage is communication, as it creates the relationship and tells the other person what we want."

Pastor Terry Sanderson, of North Park community church, counsels young married couples and said they generally have a tough time adjusting to the marital situation.

He said if a marriage is to work past the doomed five years, it is necessary to place a high value on pre-marital counselling with a marriage and family counsellor. "A good marriage can exist if the couple seeks to out-serve each other."

Both Sanderson and Jaco agreed marriage is no longer seen as a life-long partnership but rather a self-serving venture with a "what can I get out of this?" attitude.

They also agreed when children are involved, especially in the formative years when a marriage is most likely to dissolve, a single-parent household is not the optimum environment for balanced child development.

The StatsCan report states the risk of divorce is not uniform for all marriages and that 31 per cent of couples who married in 1991 will divorce.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997