Love and marriage don’t always go together like a horse and carriage.
Although New Zealanders are getting divorced at lower rates than a decade ago – 8.6 divorces in every 1000 unions compared to 10.9 in 2009, according to Statistics NZ – it doesn’t mean we’re getting any better at staying hitched. Marriage rates have been in steady decline for decades – fewer marriages, less divorce.
Kiwis are also getting divorced later, with the medium age of marital demise occurring at 47 for men and 44 for women, an increase of eight years from a decade ago.
While there is an increase of two years in the average length of a union from 12 years in 1992, Kiwis are getting married later in life. In 2017, the average age of a marriage was 32 for men and 31 for women, compared to 1992, when men married at 29 and women at 27, on average.
* Ian Ziering and Erin Ludwig split after 9 years of marriage
* Why more middle-aged men are giving up on their marriages
* Eight Hollywood splits that we didn’t see coming
These are statistics that divorce coach Bridgette Jackson sees in her work, as well as in her own divorce, that started in 2014.
Jackson’s services stretch from practically supporting someone through a separation, mediation as an alternative to a costly legal battle, all the way through to bringing on forensic accountants and lawyers to assist clients in court.
These days, “there’s a lot more pressure on people”, said Jackson, explaining why marriage could be harder than ever before.
“There is a lot more expected from people to be the perfect parent and to cope with the extra demands of the world.”
Jackson has noticed a tendency amongst her clients to end a marriage while kids are young, rather than the older mindset of persevering until the parents have an empty nest. However, women still tend to be in the dark when it comes to family finances, even if they have successful careers.
“Eight [times out] of ten, it is the male who controls the finances,” said Jackson, who is also a trained lawyer.
While statistics paint in broad strokes, divorce is complicated and unique. Here are three recent stories from Jackson’s clients. Names have been changed to protect identities and interviews were edited for clarity.
Tom has been married for over 25 years and finally separated from his former-partner last year.
My extended family have all been pretty supportive and pretty anti the relationship for a while, because they could see how it was affecting me.
Nothing I could do, or my family could do, was ever right. I had this person who was always chipping away in a narcissistic way.
I’ve tried my best for a long period of time, but it came to the point when I couldn’t…