A British survey has found that infidelity is no longer the top cause of divorce among UK couples. Is the shift due to footballers' wives?
According to the Guardian, a survey of divorce lawyers showed that largest number of divorces–27%–were caused by the vague and depressing "growing apart." Infidelity, which had come out on top every year since the survey started in 2003, trailed at 25%. It's a modest gap, but one a number of experts are seeking to explain. Louisa Plumb, head of the accounting firm that ran the survey, says,
We are seeing an increasing number of 'celebrities' putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship –- with Abbey Clancy staying with Peter Crouch, and Cheryl Cole looking set to go back to Ashley. It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity.
However, family lawyer David Salter "dismissed the idea that footballers' wives were behind any changes in couples' behaviour," and Christine Northam of the relationship-focused charity Relate offers a non-celebrity explanation:
While in the past an affair would have been the signal that all was not right in a relationship, now that is not necessarily the case. People are not necessarily having those affairs before they decide the spark has gone out of their relationship.
It's hard to tell if the data actually signal a major change in British people's attitudes toward marriage — to find out, it would help to talk to divorcing couples, not just their lawyers. That said, it's certainly possible that tolerance for infidelity has grown over time, and that more couples see it as something they can work through. Whether from watching celebrities or talking to friends or therapists, people may be deciding that cheating isn't the worst thing that can happen to their relationship. It may seem less fearsome than growing apart, which the Guardian also renders, with even greater finality, as "falling out of love."
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