Choosing a mate for life
In 1976, Mrs Janine Swift of Los Angeles married a 50lb (22kg) rock in a ceremony that was witnessed by 20 people. With a divorce rate of about 50% in the West, it is doubtful that she’s still married to the rock. In fact, the chance of a first marriage ending in divorce is between 50% and 67%.
The chance that a second marriage will end in divorce is about 10% higher than for the first marriage.
The reasons for divorce are many and varied but the biggest reason still is unbearable moaning (complaining) by one of both partners although it is not a reason cited in court – most courts would not grant a divorce on such grounds. The most common “legal” reason is irreconcilable differences.
Many people think the reason for the high percentage of divorce simply is because it is too easily granted. In some cultures, in olden times, you didn’t even need to go to a court to get a divorce. A Pueblo Indian woman divorced her husband simply by leaving his moccasins on the doorstep. Turkish bridegrooms were once required to include in their wedding vows that they will provide their new wives with coffee. If they failed, it was grounds for divorce.
In Islamic law a husband can divorce by simple repudiation which may be documented at a later stage. Al he has to do is say “ṭalāq” (literary Arabic for “I divorce you”).
Some reasons for divorce are odd but reasonable. For instance, in 1949 Mrs Caroline Squires of Cincinnati filed for a divorce from her husband on grounds of desertion. She testified that he had stepped out for a beer on 4 July 1917 – and had never come back. See more weird divorce stories and really strange divorces.
Love to get married… and divorced
“Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage,” Frank Sinatra sang Sammy Cohen’s lyrics. He didn’t mention that sometimes the cart is before the horse.
Former Baptist minister, Scotty Wolfe of Blythe, California, first married in 1927. In 1998 he separated from his 28th wife. The record for the most times married is 53 times, held by Kamarudin Mohamad of Malaysia (he passed away in 2007) who took the (once sacred) oath for the last time 2004.
The record for the shortest marriage is held by a Saudi Arabia man who repudiated his bride after the wedding ceremony because the bride’s brother took a photograph of couple.
Married for just a few minutes more were Victoria Anderson and Scott McKie of Australia: their marriage lasted 90 minutes.
Other famous short marriages are that of Britney Spears being married to Jason Alexander for only two days in 2004 and Cher divorcing musician Gregg Allman only nine days after making the big promise.
Choosing a mate for life… more or less
All is not doom and gloom, however. There are many couples who remain married for life – the other 50%, in fact! The record for the longest marriage is 90 years, held by Chinese couple Zhu Yingzhou and Xiong Fazhen.
Love is a wonderful thing and most people aspire to stay married for life and be faithful to one partner.
Well, more or less. In this sense, we humans are much like monogamous animals. As you know, having a mate for life is not exclusive to humans. 90% of bird species are monogamous, as are 10% of mammals.
The most famously monogamous birds are penguins, parrots, pigeons, geese, swan and albatrosses. Lions, wolves, orangutans, gorillas, horses and beavers are monogamous mammals.
But are they faithful?
Not quite. About 10% of the monogamous birds sometimes fly off to mate with another. Which is almost the same as humans. One in 10 children of married couples is born from a different father.