Why 1986 was the worst year to get mar­ried

Nearly half of unions end in fail­ure

Daily Mail - - Life - By Steve Doughty So­cial Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

IT was the year of the Big Bang and the Ar­gen­tinian World Cup win.

But while 1986 may have been good to the City of Lon­don and Diego Maradona, it wasn’t so good for hun­dreds of cou­ples who mar­ried that year.

Any­one who wed in 1986 has the high­est chance in mod­ern times of end­ing up di­vorced. In fact, re­searchers say al­most half of those who mar­ried then will even­tu­ally split up. Among the cou­ples who tied the knot in 1986 were Sarah Ferguson and Prince An­drew. They di­vorced in 1996.

It was the first of six bleak years for mar­riage, dur­ing which the easy avail­abil­ity of di­vorce and the ero­sion of tra­di­tional fam­ily val­ues meant that more cou­ples parted than ever be­fore or since.

Af­ter 1991 the fig­ure waned, un­til by 2008 – the year that pro­duced the most sta­ble mar­riages in re­cent times – the pro­por­tion of cou­ples who will see their union end in di­vorce is put at well un­der the four out of ten mark. The study by the Mar­riage Foun­da­tion think tank gives a year- by- year break­down of a cou­ple’s chance of di­vorce, from the lib­eral 1960s and the ex­plo­sion in num­bers of mar­riage breakups that fol­lowed.

Di­vorce law re­forms in 1969 re­moved the idea that a hus­band or wife had to have been at fault from many cases, and in­tro­duced the ‘ quickie’ di­vorce for those who ad­mit­ted adul­tery or other faults.

Since the 1990s mar­riages have be­come more sta­ble, with younger cou­ples of­ten choos­ing to live to­gether be­fore mar­riage, and those who do marry wait­ing un­til they are older, and then en­joy­ing more long-lived unions.

Harry Benson of the Mar­riage Foun­da­tion said the av­er­age age for brides and grooms at their first wed­ding was 30 and 32 in 2011 – up from 23 and 25 in the early 1980s.

‘The en­tire rise and fall in di­vorce rates since the 1960s has taken place within the first decade of mar­ried life,’ he said. ‘The worst two years to get mar­ried were 1986 and 1991. Some 44 per cent of cou­ples who mar­ried in these years will end up di­vorced.’

The fig­ures, based on Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics mar­riage and di­vorce re­turns, re­vealed that in 1963 fewer than a third of wed­dings were due to lead to di­vorce – 28.2 per cent. But by 1977, fol­low­ing the 1969 re­forms, the pre­dicted risk of di­vorce for newly-mar­rieds had topped 40 per cent.

The 1986 peak was matched with 44.4 per cent pre­dicted di­vorce lev­els for those mar­ry­ing in 1988 and 1991. Then, grad­u­ally, di­vorce be­gan to tail off and in 2008 bot­tomed out at 38.3 per cent. The life­time like­li­hood of di­vorce for those mar­ried in 2012, the lat­est year for which fig­ures are avail­able, was 38.4 per cent.

‘Di­vorce was made easy’

Crush: Guests stream through the pool doors af­ter be­ing forced to wait un­til 9am

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