I once had a couple of friends who were Christchurch high school sweethearts. They had their wedding while the rest of us were still finding nudie mags in an alleyway. They appeared to have discovered the secret to everlasting happiness.
They were divorced by the time the rest of us were just settling into mid-20s, year-long partnerships.
Honestly, we never saw the breakup coming. They were good Christians and they made beautiful babies together. I even bought them a $40 wok as a wedding present, confident that their love would be forever metaphorically stir-fried. The wok is now split in two, presumably, and spends every second weekend with dad.
Perhaps being in a de facto, hipster relationship without marriage is the answer? Take my sister: she's been with her man nearly 10 years and he's not looking like he'll ever put a ring on her (but seriously, Pete, if you're reading this: put a ring on my sister already, bro.)
I have another couple of friends who had a mint wedding at a Kerikeri orchard, had a child together, honeymoon, and spent five figures on their wedding. People came from all over the country to attend.
Three months later: divorced. And it wasn't as if they were hot enough to easily find somebody else.
Where is the consistency? Where are the indicators of a couple's likelihood of endurance, if kids and woks don't guarantee lasting love?
Despite Generation Snowflake's reputation of having no time for tradition, divorce rates are declining rapidly, from about 13 per 1000 existing marriages in 1998 down to 8.7 per 1000 in the last year counted. However, marriages are trending downward at the same rate, too.
Because marriage is being devalued by so many of us, I'm going to recommend a few ways to keep that relationship going AFTER the marriage, because it sounds like marriage isn't really tying a knot on a relationship at all.
Advice to keep lovers together – and this is no joke:
• Let both partners have the right to socialise any night of the week so they can become spiritually satisfied as an individual with a distinct identity outside of the house
• The dinner table is the ideal place to air all your frustrations from the day without shame
• Frequently try new things, either on your own or together, such as going to new destinations, eating new foods, trying interesting sports
• Presents can be expensive, but they are deeply meaningful. Splash out with time and money and get your lover something today.
This is coming from a man who found true love as a skinny Wellingtonian vegan poet, aged 23, back when my lady was a teenage, pierced, spiky-haired artist sceptical of everything in the world – and especially sceptical of love and marriage.
We got married five years ago and we've been together ten.
Love you, Sarah ;o)