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The BBC's James Westhead
"That we need a guide at all is perhaps a sign that we are just not very good at staying married"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Educating couples about marriage
Bride with marriage guide
The magazine offers information, rather than advice
Couples in England and Wales planning for a wedding are to receive a free magazine to help them make their marriage last.

Written for every kind of wedding, whether secular or religious, the magazine - Married Life, a Rough Guide for Couples - encourages couples to think about their long-term relationship, not just the actual wedding day.

By identifying the issues which may lie ahead, couples are free to choose the solutions which suit them

Penny Mansfield, One Plus One
The publication examines matters such as finance, legal implications, communication, becoming parents and dealing with common marital problems.

It is produced by two research charities, One Plus One and the National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI), together with the Church of England.

The publication follows research carried out by One Plus One which found the most common source of difficulties for couples included money, housework, communication, sex, children and balancing work and home life.

High divorce rates

The NFPI estimates that two in five marriages in the UK ends in divorce - one of the highest rates in Europe.

And the average length of a marriage fell from 37 years in 1980 to 24 in 1994, the NFPI says.

But marriage is still a popular institution in the UK, with 95% of women and 91% of men having been married by the age of 50.

The organisations behind the magazine hope it can build on the popularity of marriage, by helping the country's couples improve their staying power.


Director of One Plus One, Penny Mansfield, said the magazine offered couples information rather than advice.

"By identifying the issues which may lie ahead, couples are free to choose the solutions which suit them.

I don't think people think about what it's like to spend the rest of your life with someone

Shirley Boylan, bride-to-be
"It is a chance for couples to think about their future together and what married life might bring, rather than concentrating solely on the 'big day'," she said.

David Skidmore, from the Church of England, said there was no magic formula to a successful marriage.

The book simply offered couples good examples of how to resolve problems, he said.

"The glossy literature available to couples tends to provide a rather unrealistic and romanticised view of marriage," Mr Skidmore added.

Bride's view

Shirley Boylan, 29, who is getting married in December after a two-year engagement, welcomed the publication.

"It would make you think more about it," she said.

"If you're living with someone, it can be completely different when you're married.

"I don't think people think about what it's like to spend the rest of your life with someone," she said.

The magazine is available free of charge to couples in England and Wales who register their intention to be married.

Copies are available from clergy and registrars.

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