1/3 of Irish couples marry after only a year together

A survey released this week by Accord, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, has shown that 33 per cent of Irish couples marry after only a one-year long relationship.The survey entitled “Married Life – the First 7 Years” is the first comprehensive study of its kind undertaken in Ireland.

According to the Shay Ellis, the National Director of ACCORD the research analysed “attitudes underpinning courtship, cohabitation, relationships, marriage and family size.”

“It also looks at money, overall happiness, and the role of the Church and State in supporting recently married couples.”

Bishop of Killaloe and President of Accord, Willie Walsh said: “This survey is clearly good news about marriage. It reassures us that the deeply felt human need for a life long loving relationship – which is marriage – is alive and well.”

Some key findings of the survey: A 19-year-old idiot’s view:

Based on a study of 712 couples.

-63% agree strongly that their relationship has strengthened since they married.

A night of trying to keep your cousin from scoring your new husband’s Granny will do that to a couple.

-58% of couples choose to live with their spouse before marriage.

All this “what’s mine is yours” malarkey can actually be a little bit terrifying. Best, I say, to start small. Something along the lines of “What’s mine is mine and only mine until I feel sufficiently emasculated to buy you a large body of poultry, which you will then cook up for me real nice.”

-The average age of marriage is 32 years old

My sister was 32 when she got married. And she’d only been going out with my brother-in-law for 6 months when they’d gotten engaged so I assume that at the 31 mark she performed a spell of some sort. Leading on from this…

-Only 4% of couples marry after less than 6 months together.

A disappointing day for whirlwind romances, and possibly divorce attorneys.

-Nearly 1 in 4 of the couples surveyed met in a pub, while 1 in 5 was introduced by a mutual friend.

…(who they probably met in a pub)

-7 per cent of couples surveyed admitted that they had seriously considered separation or divorce

I have to admit I expected a larger number here. But at the same time this statistic speaks most positively to me because these 50 couples were still together at the time of the survey. According to the 2006 census, 8.7 per cent of married couples separated or divorced last year. I find it oddly settling to know that so many people go so far in one direction and manage to end up fighting towards another. And anyway, the figure does make sense. I seriously consider divorce all the time.

In researching these figures further, I visited gettingmarried.ie, a joint initiative of ACCORD and catholicireland.net launched by Bishop Walsh in December 2005 to help couples prepare practically and emotionally for marriage.

With many priests now treating a Marriage Preparation Course as a strict requirement before they will perform the marriage ceremony, I couldn’t resist investigating exactly what a group of priests had to teach already engaged couples about love.

My previous view of such courses were certainly coloured; by my brother and sister and their spouses’ experiences (my sister-in-law added on one of her forms that my brother beat her, just for the laugh), by the knowledge that priests are the most common cooordinators of such courses (not quite as extreme as my sex education being provided by a nun, but still, one has to question the importance of personal experience in these cases) and most obviously by the fact that love and respect and desire in relationships outside of marriage aren’t really covered in the bible, or indeed in any part of the modern Christian doctrine.

The website outlines what are known as “the 9 steps of Marriage”, a programme presumably created to foster emotional maturity within relationships. Reading step number 6, I was shocked to find sex; “imaganitive and pleasurable” sex, being dealt with in such a candid manner:

6. To establish an imaginative and pleasurable sex life. Creating a sexual relationship that meets the needs and fantasies of both people requires time and love and sensitivity. The stresses of work and family life, changes in sexual desire over time, mean that this aspect of the marriage requires special protection in order to flourish.

Who knew the Catholic Church had so much time for sexual fetishism?

The 7th step also created for me a newfound admiration of the Church’s treatment of marriage:

7. To share laughter and humour and to keep interests outside the marriage alive in the relationship. A good marriage is alternately playful and serious, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes difficult and cranky, but always full of life.

After reading the Church’s more modern approach to relationship advice (as opposed to the rather simplistic love, honour and obey stuff they feed you at weddings), I rest a little easier in the knowledge that modern relationship problems have been at least considered in these “how-to” guides to marriage.

Today, my boyfriend and I have been unofficially together for one year. A third of people in our position are somewhere staring blankly at the photographers’ section of the golden pages right now. Age, maturity and financial stability aside, that is scary as fuck. There is still about a hayshed of things I don’t know about my boyfriend, and might very well not figure out in a whole other year together. No wonder the Bishops are trying to learn us.


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