Marriage should be more resilient

We are told that Dawn French never recovered from the allegations that Lenny Henry had a one night stand with another woman 10 years ago. In other words, their 25-year partnership was supposedly poisoned by that one brief mistake. This fits the pattern of UK marriage in the 21st century where infidelity is almost always fatal. Our standard model for a marriage is one of uncomplicated devotion and fierce sexual attraction from the time it is contracted until death. Well, that is a pretty hopeless model for the long, complicated, and unpredictable lives that most British people lead. It infers that, just as falling in love is the justification for starting a marriage, falling out of love and desiring someone else is the justification for ending it. Such insistence on tying all the good and complex elements of a marriage – intimacy, history, strong family networks, and secure children – to something as erratic as desire is bound to create huge unhappiness.

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