Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Marriage Foundation

People do not treat marriage seriously? People divorce too easily? They give up on their relationships? There is no commitment these days? Young people do not understand marriage? Is this true? Justice Coleridge, a High Court Judge has 30 years expereince in dealing with complex family breakdowns. Justice Coleridge has been out spoken about his views about marriage and it comes as no surprise that he has set up the Marriage Foundation, an organisation designed to be the advocate of marriage within society.

The Foundation aims to highlight and promote the benefits of marriage within society and it is no secret that Justice Coleridge has experience  of the impact of family breakdowns. He himself has been a Barrister who has dealt with many marital breakdowns and he is now part of the Judiciary and sits as a High Court Judge in family matters. Justice Coleridge feels strongly about the impact such a breakdown has on the children.

It is important to recognise that children are affected significantly by the breakdown of the relationship of their parents, whether this is a marital or cohabiting relationship. The children often struggle to understand the breakdown and the adult issues associated with this. It is sometimes the case that children blame themselves for the breakdown and this can present itself in various types of behaviors. Some may become withdrawn, introverted and quiet, others may rebel and go off the rails or misbehave as school.

The separation of the parents impacts on children whether their parents are married or not. It is the separation of the two parents that often causes the most emotional damage to children. This is when parents working positively together can help. As a Resolution accredited specialist myself, I advocate that the children must be protected and I reinforce that children benefit from a positive relationship with both parents. Is this damage limitation or does it really work? Only time will tell whether the parents working together ended up with a well rounded and stable adult at the end of the childhood period.

Would this child have fared better if his parents had stayed together and provided a stable family unit? This depends often on the relationship between the separating parents when they were together. Sometimes, if the relationship between the parents is not positive and one of them is unhappy in the relationship but stays there, this can be just as damaging to the children. Children learn that they have to stay in unhappy situations and may mirror this behaviour in their own adult relationships. So would the parents staying married help this child?

In some cases parents become better at being parents when the parties separate. I often have clients tell me that their spouse is now making much more of an effort with the children and they are genuinely pleased that what was lacking whilst they were together is replaced by a positive relationship with the other parent and the children after the separation.

Marriages end for many reasons. What one person may find ends a marriage may be something that another has lived with without any issues for 30 years. Personalities, emotional development, tolerance levels and understanding vary from person to person. There is no magic formula which will confirm compatibility for the next 30 years following your marriage. Many who have been married for this length of time will confirm that there are times when their spouse may have driven them to despair and madness but underlying this relationship there is something deeper that what the human eye can see. There is a sense of belonging and more importantly a desire to stay with each other. This magic is something that all married couples are not lucky enough to have.

What everyone must also consider is that people who choose to give their relationship the status of a marriage very rarely envisage that they will be sitting at a solicitors office talking about financial provisions and children years later. Couples do take the marriage seriously and committ to one another. So if one party to the marriage decides that they want a different life then the person being divorced is often crushed by this. Some form other relationships and often cite that the marriage was lacking in some way or that they drifted apart. Is this the reality of growing older or is it that both parties take each other for granted and become complacent during the marriage.  Both may stop making the effort to talk to each other or make time for one another.

In the busy lives that we all lead with children, school runs, meals, gym memberships, pets, work commitments and ever decreasing bank balances is it any wonder that often the pressures result in people being unable to maintain the emotional and physical sides of their relationships. Like anything marriage needs time, effort and commitment to survive against the odds. More than that it takes both wanting to stay together. When one loses that desire the marriage ends.

I believe that the decisions to end a marriage is very rarely taken lightly and one that is a choice that everyone is entitled to make. Whether society accepts this choice or not, staying married and staying happily married are two different things altogether.

If you are going through a marriage breakdown and require legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact Leeds Family Law on 0113 3944145 for a confidential discussion.