- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 9:00AM
Modern wives are more willing to "turn a blind eye" to one-off lapses in their husband's fidelity, lawyers say.
Figures show there has been a 45 per cent decrease in the number of divorce petitions submitted by wives over nearly 25 years, the Daily Mail reports.
Women are said to increasingly reject the idea of divorce in favour of trying to rebuild a marriage – provided their "red line" has not been crossed.
Red lines include when a husband repeatedly misbehaves or becomes too blatant in his transgressions.
Solicitors cited the example of an easygoing marriage that ended in divorce after the husband brought his long-term mistress back to the family home.
Another case involved an erring husband crossing his wife's red line when his misuse of credit cards provoked a legal action.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2006 in England and Wales the first move in the legal process of divorce was made by 90,375 wives, but by 2016 this had fallen to 65,290 – a drop of just under 28 per cent. The overall number of divorces in England and Wales has fallen by 35 per cent in nearly a quarter of a century, and fewer than 107,000 were finalised in 2016.
Between 1993 – the year divorce reached a peak of 165,018 – and 2016, the number of wives petitioning dropped by 45 per cent.
Ellen Walker, of Hall Brown Family Law, which carried out the research, said women often found it possible to live with affairs, financial problems, substance abuse and even domestic violence until the issues became too severe or too obvious to others.
Women appeared more capable than men of putting up with marriage-threatening difficulties, she added. "We are surprised time and again by the ability of some men and women to almost turn a blind eye to their partner's misbehaviour," Walker said.
"I am not referring to single examples of infidelity or drunkenness but individuals who encounter frequent bad conduct and give their other halves another chance, mainly because of their commitment to a relationship.
"However, the cases we deal with illustrate how many people in such a situation find their patience ultimately exhausted, usually when the misconduct becomes too difficult for themselves and others to ignore.
"In some cases, that means being told by friends or relatives about extramarital affairs which they were already aware of or discovering the true extent of a spouse's financial difficulties and learning that they impact on a business as well as at home."
She added: "Their partners are sometimes shocked to learn there is a limit, given the degree to which they had been forgiven before. These marital watershed moments, though, prove to be the point of no return for a couple and can rapidly result in divorce proceedings."
Walker said: "I have been told on many occasions that divorce was regarded as something of a last resort but there are few individuals, in my experience, who have proven willing or able to work through every difficulty which presents itself."
In a report earlier this year, Hall Brown said the rise of "breadwinner wives" was also putting women off divorce as the prospect of giving up some of their wealth to their husbands made them "realise the financial consequences of calling time on the marriage".
This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.