Savvy womens Magazine

Try Before You Buy

'Always get married in the morning. That way, if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted a whole day''from the ever-wise eight-time married Mickey Rooney.

by Maggie from London

Dearest Lulu,

Rather sensible advice considering that the UK Office of National Statistics has revealed that the number of Britons choosing marriage has plunged to a record low, the lowest number recorded since records first started being kept in 1862.

Those marriageables in their twenties simply aren't tying the noose, I mean the knot. They are waiting until they reach their 30's, if inclined at all; the average age that men and women marry increased to 36.2 years for men and 33.6 years for women ' up by three years for both sexes since 1995. Too much frolicking, fun, frivolity all around?

And although the findings suggested that almost three-quarters of couples living together planned to marry at some time in the future, so they say, only 3 in 5 actually reach the 'I do, do you?... until we are both dead stage ' and more than a third of these unions lasted less than 10 years. But certainly you already knew that. Cheerfully living together until those gold bands are exchanged and misery ensues'statistically of course.

Presumably married experts predict that the decline will only get worse if the Government pushes through plans to give wayward cohabiting couples the same legal rights as their married counterparts.

'Tut, tuts' abound. Those open-shirted-tieless-I'm-one-of-you-men-in-suits have scrambled over each other to reach available microphones to declare their allegiance to very, very tired, tiresome 'family values' rhetoric. Tedious Tory toff leader, David Cameron wants premarital counselling and relationship classes ASAP' to save those cohabiters from what exactly? Each other? Conservative retribution? Sin? No Dave. The latter is only in America.

Of those couples who regarded cohabiting as advantageous, almost 50 percent said it gave them the opportunity of a 'trial marriage', while 30 percent said they enjoyed having no legal ties. 70 per cent of married couples stayed together until their children turned 16, compared with only 30 percent of cohabiting couples said they enjoyed having no legal ties.

The survey said that a legal change designed to crack down on 'sham marriages' may also have had an impact on the figures. So that's what they meant by trial marriages'.

But hang on here. There is a bit more involved than slothfulness, impassivity, fear of commitment, fear of deportation. Research reveals that getting married prompts a 50 per cent increase in housework. It also shows that most of the rows between couples concern domestic responsibilities ' the lack of.

As reported in the latest edition of Economic Journal, when a woman is blissfully, gleefully, joyously single, her domestic duties - ironing, cleaning, cooking - take up about 10 mind-numbing hours a week. But once she cohabitates with her partner, married or unmarried, in his place or hers, another 5 hours is added to her domestic enjoyment every week. Surprise. Surprise. With regards to men, the effect is the exact opposite. Before sharing their lives in one domicile with their treasured one, men average 7 hours of housework a week'surely that's 7 hours a month'.

Once men have acquired their personal valet/nurse/cook/cleaner ' their work load is reduced to 5 hours or less. 'Less' being closer to the 22 minutes that it takes to uncork the wine, pack the bathroom with the week's newspapers, stock the fridge with beer'18 minutes and counting.

The research says that men are willing to take a back seat ' ie, a lie down on the sofa - because they think women enjoy taking control of the house and all the duties. Here's my other leg'. while women say they are forced to spend much more time bent over the kitchen sink in their bilious pink washing up gloves because they are frustrated by the stacks of dirty dishes left by their partners - or the mound of clothing worn less than 45 minutes or having to search for the toothpaste top at 12 am. The arrival of children clearly means the housework duties multiply.

Conservative Ian Duncan Smith recommends that services should take advantage of the 'magic moment' straight after the birth of children to encourage couples to get married. These guys need to get out more ' or perhaps, stay in more.

Women who hate housework and are unable to gently persuade their partners to participate could be inspired by one compelling argument. Scientists discovered recently that men could live longer if they did more chores. Hiding away from household duties and shirking childcare can lead to them 'dying of boredom'. So there you are. Best to save that '70,000 for the average wedding, open a separate savings account, toss that spring issue of Wedding Flowers, put your feet up, have a large glass of Pinot Noire and hire a cleaner.

'My husband and I celebrated our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. You know what I finally realised? If I had killed the man the first time I thought about it, I'd have been out of jail by now.' Anita Milner



About the Author:
Maggie is from Manhattan, where she was a painter, then designer of clothing, objects, textiles, interiors while writing for various publications and her own webzine. She is permanently based in London, the city of irony, from where she writes regularly to her gal pal Lulu in New York.  

You can read her amusing tales about London's daily life, people, current events, politics, fashion and culture at her website

You can also read more of Maggie's letters to Lulu at Letters from London on this site.