Five Reasons Why Marriages Are In Decline

Photo by Ellie Cooper

Going by the latest statistics, marriages are significantly on the decline in the UK. In 1970, there were 480,285 marriages registered. As of 2021, the yearly average has has dropped steadily to 275,000 weddings, annual average, a massive fall of 43% during that time. In fact, the year 2007 produced the lowest marriage rates since they were registered. One writer in the Guardian attributed the gradual fall mainly to a lack of trust in society among people for each other, labelling current marriages as “households built on sand”. That could be one factor, but I doubt if it comes anywhere near the five major factors that are keeping marriages at bay in our technological world. The figures apply mainly to opposite sex relationships.

  1. The first and main reason is that today’s men and women are caught in transition

The old authoritarian order where men were regarded as head of the household and could literally dictate whether a woman was taken or remained a spinster for life has been gradually swept away. Both sexes are now caught in no man’s land rapidly re-writing the rules. Women, in particular, are enjoying new freedoms, able to take care of themselves without needing to marry to do so. They have their own income, their own houses and their own cars, the kind of assets men would boast of when trying to woo a woman. 

Many men now feel inadequate in that respect and are unsure of their approach. Worse still, too many lack confidence in how to interact with women. The goalposts of macho security have long moved and, fearing being rejected by the new independent women, many men prefer to look but lack the courage to make any connection. The result is a lot of lonely people busily skirting around each other, superficially looking keen and eager, but, in the absence of modern protocol, are often scared witless as to how they should proceed with that contact.

  1. The next key factor is a fear of being hurt. 

Men on dating sites even have handles that say ‘Please don’t hurt me!”, which sounds so wimpish and cowardly. One feels the urge to say: We’ve all been hurt, just get over it! But men, in particular, take hurting very badly and many lives are actually determined by that fear of being emotionally scarred. Yet, by focusing on being ‘hurt’, they forget that pleasure comes before any kind of hurt and so they’ll miss out on the pleasure, too. Which is why many of them are increasingly lonely, angry and bitter at the state of their lives. A person living in fear is not a happy one. Fear spells doom and gloom because such people are simply waiting for the next worst thing to happen to them. 

Not surprisingly, it does happen, in a self-fulfilling way, because when we fear we bring that fear into reality through our expectations and a lack of trust. If they believe that the next woman they meet will cheat on them it is only a matter of time before this happens because the way they treat that woman, mainly with suspicion and negative expectations, will soon annoy her off enough to send her into the arms of another. Most men need to recognise that life goes in a balance of pain and pleasure, up and down, good and bad, birth and death, for example. We cannot have one without the other and the quicker we cope with each event and leave it behind, the more effectively we cope with hurting, too.

Photo by Hannah Busing

3. The third problem for modern couples is seeking perfectionism in choice of partners

Most people now will not make do with ‘second best’ in their eyes. Unless their choices are exactly right in every way, fitting the perfect imaginary identikit, they will not marry. She must have certain characteristics, especially being “young, slim and beautiful” and he must be “tall, handsome, solvent/wealthy”, and certainly not bald! Of course, as there would be a premium on these perfect beings, with younger women wanting even younger men, there are a lot of unhappy people whose unrealistic expectations are being ignored. 

Many people foolishly believe that they are actually shopping for an unchanging product when they are seeking a partner, one that comes to order. But human beings are emotionally diverse and are ever changing. Often by focusing on some aspects to the detriment of others, one is likely to miss something else of value that person might bring to the friendship. The only two things that should matter in a connection are the degree of attraction and chemistry between them. Everything else will gradually unfold.

  1. The next major factor is a practical one: fear of divorce costs. 

Marrying is pretty simple to do if one doesn’t desire a big splash. But the divorce can be traumatic because everything has to be shared. When there is bitterness and resentment included as well, that usually mean lawyers – and lawyers cost. That is why many people baulk at weddings. They project themselves further down the line and the sheer thought of the expense of divorce puts all thoughts of marriage in the shade. For some people it is all too much.

  1. Finally, there is the sex factor

In the past, most people, especially women, ‘saved’ themselves for the man of their dreams, and to conform to social and religious protocol of no sex before marriage.  If men wanted sex, they could only get it in being married. Now with freer sex between couples, there is no need for marriage, especially when one puts that together with the desire to have children significantly decreasing or being deferred to a later age. Many men are now having children in their late 40s and early 50s, putting careers firmly in front of families. It means the desire to settle down with someone and to have a family is lessened to a large degree for younger people. Many do not see the point in getting married at all, especially if they believe that they cannot afford to keep a family.

Fifty years ago marriage was the important foundation for society. It validated the family unit, it confirmed procreation, it established men in caring roles and gave security to women who often had no other outlet for their talents. Today, with increasing self-awareness and independence, the reasons for marriage are becoming obsolete, except in religious or traditional spheres. One thing seems certain: so long as people fear being hurt, seek perfect partners and lack the confidence to interact with one another, the decline of marriage will continue until something else, perhaps more convenient, gradually takes its place.



PREMIUM: 10 Tell-Tale Signs Of Low Self-Esteem

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Many people are not aware that they might have low self-esteem which could be hampering their desires and progress, because they lack awareness of the root causes of their mental and emotional health. But low self-esteem manifests itself in many ways, some of which are often suppressed by other aspects. However, the most significant ones are the following, in order of importance, and their ability to cause blockages, recurring unease, and even emotional damage:

  1. Guilt. The other side of this emotion is shame, which is usually associated with less confident people. Guilt tends to emerge from a feeling of impotence, especially regarding the inability to change a particular situation; and of not living up to the expectations of those who matter to us most. Extremes of guilt often show themselves as self-torture, seeing personal actions as unforgivable, imperfections as permanent, and believing improvement is impossible. Guilt is especially pronounced when there is hurt and betrayal in relationships, and in grieving for loved ones.

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Why Do I Fear Upsetting People, Or Them Being Disappointed in Me?

Photo by Karan Mandre

If you have such fears, it could be both a need for approval and the need to be perfect, because of your low self-esteem and lack of confidence in yourself. Needs that keep you firmly in your tracks, dogged by fear, until the significant others tells you it is okay. But we cannot stop people from being disappointed in us because each person has a different expectation of us, a different aim for us and a different perception of whom we should be. Only self-belief and the realisation that no one is better than anyone else should guide your actions. While we all seek approval when we are younger, which is natural to bond with our parents, a sign of maturity and independence is the desire to seek personal approval only through self-belief and self-appreciation.

Your fear of disapproval perhaps helps you to project your thoughts of feeling inadequate on to the people you are trying to please or impress, in fact, deciding how they are going to regard you, making up their mind for them, judging yourself harshly for them, and having expectations on their behalf in your desire to control their reactions favourably. The only advice is: Lay it down, and start being you. Perfection has control and conformity at its centre, and it does not allow for mistakes, risk taking, innovation or genuine self-realisation, either. Worst of all, it causes much stress – and stress ages you and shortens your life!

Perhaps it is time to keep asking yourself what is the worst that can happen when someone is upset with you? Keep asking it of everyone you fear and see how you would deal with the perceived consequences. That is how you build your confidence and self-worth, by facing the worst scenarios and dealing with them, either physically or mentally. Not from shying away from life and dreading the experiences. You will then gradually discover what you really fear about a lack of approval and be able to do something about it.

Perhaps you could start by acknowledging that there is no such thing as perfection. It is an unreachable state. We are made as fallible people so that we can forever GROW and develop into wonderful beings. When we focus on perfection, and fulfilling exactly what other people want, we rob our lives of the little imperfect things which make it magical. We forget that whatever we do someone else is likely to better it, or to take it to new heights of excellence. We also forget that, if we were granted our wish to be perfect, there would be nothing left to do in life, except to stagnate in a huge void of meaningless existence.

I always ask myself which I would rather be: Green and growing, and ready to learn, or ripe and rotting and knowing it all? because perfection is the end state, not the beginning. We are so afraid to upset others, or vice versa, we stay in the same habitual rut, doing he same actions and getting the same results without even knowing why.

You start to fix perfection by living a little, letting your hair down sometimes, and not trying too hard to please. By just being YOU. That’s the only sure way to appreciate yourself more. You will gradually lose the intense desire to impress others because you will be at peace with you, and their expectations will come second or lower in the scheme of your life.

Please remember, that you might try to please people as often as you can, but the day you cannot genuinely please them, they really won’t understand it, and you will be mud in their eyes, anyway! Best to please yourself because those who like you as you are will flock to you, and those who don’t will give you a wide berth, and good riddance to them, anyway, if all they will do is drag you down or be negative to you.


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Online Dating: The ‘Candy Shop Syndrome’ And Disappointed Men

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez


As mentioned before, men appear to complain a lot on dating sites out of sheer frustration caused mainly by a mismatch of the reality with their optimistic expectations: such as frustration in finding dates, having women respond to them, having undeveloped communication, being constantly blocked, and not finding someone to match them. 

However, one thing many guys are forgetting is this: If you are walking down the street and 500 people are heading towards you, chances are that you will fancy probably ONE of that whole group, or perhaps none. This is no different with the Internet. Just because a lot of people gather in one place doesn’t mean one will instantly find a partner. It takes an awful lot of patient searching and talking to others to finally reach someone who might fit the bill. In bygone days, when travel was not so common, and networking didn’t exist, people were limited to their towns and villages and had to take what they could find, hence the many failed and unhappy marriages of yesteryear because people were mismatched. Today, everyone has to do their own work in finding that partner as all the usual community avenues are closed. 

However, forgetting that aspect, the main reason why many men are not getting much back is because they don’t know what they want! Thus they wouldn’t recognise it if it got up and whacked them across the cheeks. Many men (and women) approach dating sites with what I call the ‘candy shop’ syndrome. “There are LOTS of sweets, so which one shall I choose?” Being so excited, they forget that some sweets can make them ill, but they still choose randomly without a thought, because many have this IDEAL in their heads that does not match the reality of who they are and what they want. They are foiled every time because the women they seek cannot align with the guys they see, so the ideal cannot become reality. 

The first law of getting to know someone else is to know who we are. When we live in denial about our bodies (like our height or weight), what we like, or what makes us tick and when we are willing to compromise what we value for expediency, it is difficult to attract someone who is honest. We will just keep attracting others in denial, too. Not surprisingly, things do not get off the ground, or they go pear-shaped soon afterwards. 

For example, when I was dating, the number of men who didn’t bother to read my profile, simply went by my pictures and then raced towards me was pretty sad. They then became annoyed if I didn’t respond favourably. I guess that is what was happening to many other women: unsuitable men believing that just because they fancy a woman, she must fancy them in return! 

The Law of Attraction

Dating sites work by the Law of Attraction. You will attract who you are, whether honest or lying, well-meaning or superficial. If you are attracting a certain type, YOUR persona and actions are drawing them to you, perhaps because you are not being transparent, you have not made your expectations clear, perhaps settling for anything, being possibly in denial about who you are, or behaving like they do. 

I know that women perhaps have it easier on dating sites, but I had the reverse problem to the men: too much attention and offers of dates! And I really didn’t think it was just because I was a woman. I know I am good looking too (and was also in my 50s, which should have stopped a lot of ageist men!). But, my secret of success was that I knew what made me happy (like my dancing), and didn’t go there if I didn’t see any mention of it. If I have any doubts at all, I didn’t let a round peg fit a square hole! I swiftly moved on to someone else. 

It meant I had mainly pleasurable contacts, I was always courteous with a reply, I tried not to whinge about anything and, if one approach wasn’t working, I quickly tried something else to widen my search pool and the number of potential contacts. As they say, only an insane person keeps doing things exactly the same way and expects different results, so I regularly reviewed my situation! Make sure your profile and actions are clear. Will you settle for anything, in your need for attention, or do you know who you are, or the main things you want? If you don’t, sadly, someone else will always set the agenda for you, and leave you feeling disappointed, frustrated and unhappy. 

Life Lines on Attraction…..from James Allen

Writing these profound words in 1864, well ahead of his time, James Allen  meant that we cannot attract what we are not, otherwise we wouldn’t get on with that person. Simply put, the law of attraction dictates that we will never find what we’re looking for, unless we possess it first!  Soon the person who provides it for us will get tired of just giving and getting nothing in return, which then leads to a perpetual cycle of failed friendships and relationships. 

For example, if you are having problems with people who lie, cheat, etc., unfortunately it starts with you, depending on the emotional and interactive patterns you develop as coping mechanisms to deal with adversity, the expectations you have of others, and your desire for perfection.

If your relationships are not proving as satisfactory as you would like, it could be that you, too, are not genuine, but superficial; you perhaps expect too much of others and then feel let down when they don’t deliver, or you are seeking people to reflect your values instead of just being themselves. Your search for perfection, and the ideal love, is perhaps blinding you to other unsavoury aspects of their personality. 

If you are attracting certain types of people who cause you anxiety, it is likely there is something in you that aligns with those ‘undesirable’ qualities.  So what signals are you giving like a beacon which are a drawing certain types towards you? Unless you know what they are, you will keep getting the same results.

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Problem Point: I Constantly Want to be Above Less-Than-Perfect People. Why?

Photo by Jackson David

If that is the case, you clearly have a problem with your self-esteem. You feel inferior to others, and the only way you can make yourself feel better, and feel you matter, is by putting yourself above them. Sadly, the more you strive to do that is the more you expose yourself as inadequate, insecure, and not worth knowing as a person.

The main problem with your logic of perfection is that there is no such person as a perfect person! Everyone of us has both strengths and flaws to give us BALANCE and uniqueness. Perhaps you have not got the reinforcement and affirmation you seek from the people who matter to you, and you waste valuable life trying to be ‘perfect’ to gain their approval. But perfection is a stagnant state. There is no growth, no further development or creativity in perfection.

Why does being perfect matter to you so much? You obviously don’t think much of yourself, so you project that inferiority complex on to others. If they are not perfect in your eyes, they are not worthy, because you don’t feel worthy either! This kind of world view cannot make you feel good about yourself, because winning friends and influencing others do not come from negativity, unkindness or cruelty. It comes from self-love, self-appreciation, gratitude for what you have, and appreciation of others, too.

It takes all sorts to make our world. Putting yourself above others is also the root of inane prejudice and sexism/racism. It is easy to assign certain people to your imperfect list, according to spurious criteria, and treat them in discriminatory ways. However, when you put yourself above others, there is likely to be no one there to value you when you need some empathy and support!

You can treat others however you wish, but you will gradually discover that the greatest happiness is associated with how you treat yourself first, how you value yourself, and how you can radiate that self-love outwards to others, in the form of empathy and kindness, for them to value and respect you in turn.

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Today’s Thought: Trying to Find the Perfect Match?

We spend a lot of time subconsciously seeking that ‘perfect’ ideal in a partner without realising just how much anxiety and energy we expend on it. Of course, we will have types of people we prefer, but the more limited the parameters, the narrower the choice and the more difficult these people are to discover. We also tend to forget that we, too, are far from perfect to the other party, and so any perfect match will be a pipe dream.

For example, if we are only interested in blondes, we immediately rule out women of all other hair colours who may carry the same characteristics as blondes, yet who might need nothing more than a colouring shampoo to complete the picture!

Sadly, our search for the perfect mate makes, perhaps, 99% of people we meet unsuitable, as we gradually convince ourselves of their negatives while the positives seldom get the chance to affect us. It seems that so long as people fear being hurt, seek perfect partners and lack the confidence to interact with one another, there will be a growing numbet who are likely to remain single.

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Problem Question: How Do I Make My Guy Love Me?

Image by Steve Watts

Q. I just can’t get loved by my loved one and that realisation is keeping me frozen… I do feel like the person I am, which is not much… It is the worst feeling to see there is nothing you can offer to your man that another woman cannot do better.

A. You must be in a lot of pain. But you have both the problem and the solution in your email to me. Let’s identify your key comments.

“I just can’t get loved by my loved one and that realisation for me is keeping me frozen… I do feel like the person that I am, which is not much…”

First of all, how can someone love what you are rejecting just now? You don’t think much of yourself (your words) but expect your partner to find that low esteem attractive. That is not possible. No one will love you in your present state because true love begins inside of us. Until you really appreciate the unique and loveable being you are, you cannot appreciate others, neither can they love you in turn. Perhaps that’s why you call others ‘ignorant’ because they are not seeing your low point of view. Yet that is a stereotype reflecting the negativity you feel inside of you.

Currently, you are not giving out much, you simply have needs – the need of another to love you. But just being needy isn’t attractive. Just like how to have friends we have to first be a friend to others, being lovable comes from being able to be a lover, to forget ourselves and to GIVE; to find out what our partners want and SHARE it with them, not just wait for them to love us or to fulfil our needs. Naturally, the more needy and worthless you feel, the less you will have it remedied, and the less you will have to give, because no one can make you happy if you are unhappy with yourself. You will always feel miserable and inadequate. YOU have to start the loving process first to get the love you seek.

Dealing With a Negative Situation
If your partner is having, or has had, an affair, then sitting in that demoralising situation wondering why he found someone more attractive won’t help you. It only makes you feel worse: truly rejected, unwanted and unloved. You have to begin the slow process of finding out why you think you are not much, why you feel unloved and begin to appreciate yourself, a step at a time.

Once you begin to feel better about you, as a person, others will flock to you and your husband is more likely to notice and respect you. But the simple truth is that you are not likelt to find love until you love yourself, because you are offering something unlovable to others, something you don’t care about, something you loathe. Yet you expect them to compensate for that loathing by loving you instead. You expect them to be excited about your substandard goods. Cart before horse, I’m afraid.

You have a lot going for you, with or without a someone else. Pick yourself up and stop focusing on your partner. You will never be able to please him in this state. Keep saying to yourself that if he doesn’t like you, there is always someone else and start to rebuild your confidence. Once attraction goes, it doesn’t return, no matter what you do. Something essential is lost. You merely prolong the pain. To keep the relationship it has to be re-established on a different plain of mutual respect, and that’s very hard to do when we are feeling unloved and resentful and the other party isn’t really interested. Sadly, while you are waiting to please him further, he is already looking outside and the one thing these outside liaisons do to a relationship is to show what is missing from it, which makes reconciliation even harder.

Stop trying to be Perfect
Most important, stop being hard on yourself in trying to be a perfect parent for your child. The more you do that, the more inadequate you will feel trying to measure up. Life does what it likes and just because you cannot offer your son two parents doesn’t mean he does not appreciate the individual love you each have to give him. Get rid of your desire for perfection and accept your situation as it is. Try to improve it in other ways instead of vainly holding on to an ideal which is draining your resources and sapping your confidence and esteem.

Will love be back? you ask. Yes it will, every time. Only you can bring love back into your life when you stop seeking approval, stop expecting people to love you to make up for your lack of self love, stop trying to be perfect and start giving to others and yourself, instead of just waiting to receive. Believe me, it would be a wholly new and fulfilling experience.

How can you make your man love you? You can’t, so stop trying. Something is missing from your relationship and unless you find out what it is, the situation will only get worse. The real question here seems to be, “How can I love myself?”. Once you work that out, things will begin to happen that you didn’t even expect because you won’t wait around for his love. However, do hang in there. It really does get better when you begin to look outwards, when you can see where you want to go and you begin to truly value the most important person in your world – YOU!

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RELATED BOOK: Cheating & Betrayal: A Handy Guide to Reducing Its Impact

Why Do Some People Like to Ruin Things for Others and Make Them Miserable?

Photo by Brooke Lark

It’s called POWER. This is how such people make themselves feel significant, in control of others, and that they matter.

There are some people who lack self-belief and self esteem and, like bullies, the only way they can feel good about themselves is to make life harder for others, especially picking on those who might be more vulnerable and lacking in courage or confidence. They are often easy prey to that kind of selfish action.

Some people tend to have a belief that if they are not getting what they want, nobody should get theirs, either, hence why they spend their time making life difficult for others by thwarting their opportunities and success. However, you also have a choice as to whether someone can affect you, or not, because bullies will only prey on those they believe are weak and helpless. Perhaps you need to stand up for yourself and show them that you are not there to be manipulated or be made miserable; that they are not important to your progress in life.

As that great American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said: “No one can make us feel inferior without our permission.” Indeed.

So you might need to let go of the victim mode and develop more confidence in yourself to ignore the negative actions of others by surrounding yourself with people who uplift you, instead of dragging you down. You really can tell the quality of your life, and what you desire for yourself, by the friends you keep.

In Seeking a Partner Are We Just Hard to Please, Or is it Impossible to Find Someone Who Fits Us?

Photo by Matt W Newman

When it comes to relationships, the only people who are hard to please are those who have no self-love, who are TAKERS rather than GIVERS, who expect other people to provide everything they lack, including love, then blame them when anything does not match up. They live in a carefully constructed world of perfection, where there is no compromise, so no one will come up to their impossible standards. Of course, as no one in this world is perfect, they are not likely to get what they seek.

The hallmark of the perfectionist seeking a relationship is that they tend to focus on others instead of themselves. They are so busy noticing what potential suitors lack, they forget about their own imperfections and the fact that the other person would not be getting everything they seek, either. In this way, people dance around each other, seldom getting what they want, always finding fault and noticing what’s lacking, instead of making use of the positive attributes; having very little love to give, but expecting a lot from others, and wanting that perfect relationship when they do not have the capacity to build it.

After my divorce, when I met my current boyfriend, one of my requirements was that he liked dancing, because I love it and have always done it. He didn’t dance, didn’t like it, but was willing to do it for my sake, he said. I wasn’t happy with that, as he should do things for himself, not just to please others. Gradually I let go off that expectation as I realised that he might not dance, but he had other great attributes that I liked, and he didn’t get everything he desired from me either. The result is that we’ve been together for seven years, and counting, in an awesome relationship.

We really need to keep reminding ourselves that every human being has strengths and weaknesses. When we fall in love, we accept those two elements without question. We cannot isolate the strengths and wish away the weaknesses to get that perfect partner. They come as a package and the best relationships are created on the foundations of balance in our partners, not hoping a partner will change into a perfect being later down the line. That expectation would bring a lot of disappointment, and ultimately resentment, as the relationship develops.

The most successful relationships work when each party accepts the other as he/she is, warts and all, not what we wish them to be, to make them over to suit us, or to bring expectations of perfection to the interaction. We all have flaws and the best thing for new relationships is for each person to work out what really makes them motivated and happy, and try to focus on those elements in their relationship. If both parties are getting what makes them feel good, in a natural unforced way, that’s a great beginning. In this way, they will accept that they can’t have everything from any one person as they, too, will never completely satisfy another. But by seeking the things that really matter to them, and compromising on the lesser elements, they can find someone to suit them, instead of living a lonely life of impossible expectations without fulfilment.