Although deemed romance and roses, marriage needs constant work.
It seems fewer people are opting for the traditional solitudes of marriage with a significant drop in couples tying the knot.

In Statistics South Africa’s latest survey on marriage and divorce, the rate of weddings are on a steady decline from 150 000 marriages in 2014 to 143279 in 2015.

A comparison with the 2014 data shows that registration of civil marriages dropped by 8.1% but customary marriages and civil unions increased.

The common age of first time civil marriage bridegrooms increased from 33 to 34 years, while the age for brides remained unchanged at 30.

The report also revealed that divorce rates in 2015 increased by 2.3% to 25260, from a previous 24689, showing that more women than men were filing for divorce.

About 45.4% of the 2015 divorces came from marriages that did not mark their 10th wedding anniversary.

In 2015, there were 14045 (55.6%) divorces with children aged less than 18 years affected.

The provincial distribution shows that Gauteng (6544), the Western Cape (4854) and KZN (4140) were the provinces with the highest number of divorces.

However, the Indian population showed the second lowest rate of divorces in the country with only 1566, as compared to 10841 black divorces and 6588 white divorces.

It is often argued that a high divorce rate is due to post modern couples, who refuse to make their marriage work.

uMhlanga based litigation attorney and founder of TPA Legal, Theasen Pillay, who has dealt with countless marriage and divorce cases, said three factors come into play that lead to couples calling it quits.

“Financial trouble, domestic issues and cultural indifference are key contributors to the expediting rate of divorce we see in KZN.”

Pillay advised couples, who are contemplating marriage, to ensure an ante-nuptial agreement is signed by both parties.

“Always sign a contract where you are able to keep your assets should you decide to part ways.”

Family therapist Dr Suhaima Hoosen said divorce often occurred when there was a lack of emotional maturity and financial conflict.

“It becomes especially vicious when children are involved.”

Hoosen recommends every couple contemplating marriage seek pre-marital counselling.

“Every young man and woman must be schooled in the foundations of marriage and parenthood. This is imperative to understand the internal cogs that make a marriage work.”

The Westville based therapist added that couples who are going through conflict could seek free advice from Family and Child Welfare, a local priest or a relative or friend.

Clinical social worker, Alex Keen, of Durban North, who specialises in relationship counselling, premarital preparation as well as individual therapy, said all people are different when it comes to relationships.

She adds that it takes hard work to make a marriage work.

“Not only as far as gender is concerned but the variables that are brought into a relationship, including family of origin, influences, religious convictions, cultural differences, life experiences, communication patterns, expressions of sexuality, hobbies, interests, state of health and food traditions plays a part.

“It is no wonder that the ‘fantasised images’ of a beautiful wedding and marital bliss are soon tarnished with accompanying disillusionment.

“Love and attraction are the initial ingredients for a relationship. However, day to day, working on making one’s spouse the priority in one’s life and keeping the value of one’s spouse high, are important principles that then guide other important marital ingredients such as strong communication skills, fun, laughter, joint decision-making, working as a team to achieve discussed goals, flexibility and good conflict management skills.”

Keen said people have become so used to quick fixes that marriages are sometimes viewed in the same way.

“There’s a saying that ‘Love doesn’t grow a marriage, marriage grows love’.”

Keen added that in many of his marital therapy sessions, couples questioned why they were not made aware of these differences and how to deal with them before they got married.

“Most couples muddle their way through one of the most interesting, intriguing but complex relationships, assuming that love will last and that love alone will carry them through.

“While true to some extent, unfortunately love is not always present 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and through years of marriage. Pre-marital counselling or relationship seminars are thus imperative for setting out relationship principles. Our Marriage Constitution, much the same as a country’s constitution, guides future issues that may arise,” he advised.

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