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The institution of marriage shouldn’t look like a Victorian mental asylum, not built for modern life

I would like to be taught how to fight. Not boxing or karate or anything you need a costume for, just lessons in common basic argument, between people who love each other. New York magazine interviewed a collection of couples, asking what they wish their partner would say in a fight. “What I need him to say is: ‘Yes, [my family] are assholes and they are snobs and I can’t imagine how much it sucks to hang out with them when you’re not biologically obligated to, but please, I need you there with me, and I’ll buy you a huge thank-you present for it.’” I wanted a stream of these truths, hooked straight to a vein. “She said I was disempowering her in front of her children and taking her voice away. I wish she said: ‘Shit, you know what? You’re right. I took it too far. I’ll check myself next time.’” MORE. “I just snapped. I said, ‘If I miscarry, it’s because you didn’t take good care of me.’ He was, like, ‘You are awful. Listen to what you just said…’ I wanted him to say, ‘Jesus Christ, get off your feet right now. You’re not lifting a finger until we know this pregnancy is healthy. I forbid you from taking any risks because I love you and our future baby too much.’” Raw, irrational, so real they sting like menthol shower gel, and reason enough, if more reason was needed, to question why we tie ourselves together, and in knots, and forever.

The current iteration of divorce requires formally trash-talking the person you once loved

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Custody over pets is increasingly figuring in divorce proceedings – and one in 20 pet-owning couples now reportedly have a pet-nup detailing everything from contact time to grooming parlours

Name: Pet-nups.

Age: Five years or more.

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Brexit reality checkPleasing the peopleDivorce lawIrish passportsThe Scream

Jonathan Freedland’s timely reality check (The lesson of this ordeal? The EU is a club worth belonging to, 6 April) should be recast in 72 point and pinned up in every ERG member’s office, but of course it won’t be. It will be dismissed as “leftist”, as Jacob Rees-Mogg termed the BBC when his tinpot theories were questioned on the Today programme last week.
Jennifer Rees
Cardiff

• Isn’t it time that May and Corbyn thought in line with that phrase “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. If Brexit had been treated as a new national project, the government would have gone out to consultation. It would have had discussions with all parties and quickly realised that it is impossible to do, because you can’t even please some of the people some of the time.
Linda Karlsen
Whitstable, Kent

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Planned overhaul in England and Wales praised for shifting focus from blame to resolution

Lawyers have welcomed government plans to introduce no-fault divorce, saying the changes would allow families to function after a marriage breakdown.

The government announced on Tuesday that divorce laws in England and Wales would be changed as soon as parliamentary time became available.

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Forcing miserable people to stay together is pointless. The justice secretary’s proposed reforms are welcome

He was one husband for the first eight years of their marriage, and someone quite different for the next eight.

Or so the former Olympic rower James Cracknell, whose separation from his partner Beverley Turner was recently announced, apparently put it. Like most elite athletes he had always been formidably driven, obsessive even in pursuit of extreme sporting challenges. But a head injury sustained during one of them caused changes to his personality that were clearly hard for everyone in the family, including him, to live with. Arguing about whose fault the breakdown of their marriage was in these circumstances seems ridiculous and petty, and yet that’s what the law would currently require them to do.

Related: Tini Owens is locked into an unhappy marriage – this is why we need ‘no fault’ divorce

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Justice secretary vows to end ‘unnecessary blame game’ in marital breakdowns

Legislation for no-fault divorce will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time becomes available to end the “blame game” in marital breakdowns, the justice secretary has pledged.

Changes to the existing divorce laws in England and Wales would establish a minimum six-month timeframe to enable couples to “reflect” on their decision and also abolish the ability to contest a divorce.

Related: Parents' break-up more likely to harm mental health of children aged seven to 14

Related: Be honest, be kind: five lessons from an amicable divorce

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Consciously uncoupling is possible: choose your battles, build a support network and learn to play the long game

It’s not always infidelity that leads a couple to split – sometimes a marriage simply runs out of steam and both sides are better off apart. But when that happens, is it really possible to part amicably?

It’s been five years since my marriage broke down but, since Kristian and I separated, we have been on family holidays together, shared dinners, spent every Christmas with one another and even been out to a gig while my new partner babysat.

By remaining friends, life is now so much better for all of us

Related: A feminist's guide to raising boys

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It is hard to see how a child’s interests can be truly prioritised and safeguarded if one of the parties is not properly advised and represented, writes a former lay judge in the family court

Louise Tickle (Why I fought for the right to open up family court decisions to greater scrutiny, 20 February) focuses on reporting restrictions, by virtue of which errant local authorities and judges are, in her view, protected from scrutiny. In my view, the greater evil is the absence of legal aid in the majority of family court and court of protection cases. I served, for a decade, as a lay judge in the family court. I have subsequently supported many litigants-in-person in the family court, in one case in the court of protection, and sometimes in the courtroom as a McKenzie friend. This has been possible thanks to the moral and logistical support of the Citizens Advice Bureau where I have been a longstanding adviser.

It was always obvious to me when I was chairing family courts that unrepresented parties were at a substantial disadvantage, especially where the other party was represented. Now that I am on “the other side”, as it were, it is all the more clear how very challenging it is for most unrepresented and unsupported parties to handle the complexities of court practice and procedure. The Children Act 1989 says that when a court determines any question, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration. It is very difficult to see how the welfare of any child can be truly prioritised and safeguarded in the family court, whether involving state action, via the local authority, or a dispute between parents and/or carers, if any one of the parties is not properly legally advised and represented.
Name and address supplied

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Perhaps it’s my age, but I think a lot about beginnings and rarely of endings. The divorce invitation came as a surprise

With every year that passes, more wedding invitations arrive. Now, summers are filled in advance, dedicated to engagements, hens, weddings and, soon, baby showers.

But this month I received a different invitation: “Please save the date to mark my divorce.” It was from a school friend. Hers was my first white-people wedding. It was in a church in Yorkshire, I was 18, she wore a white dress and held a bouquet. I knew all the lines, absorbed from television. “Can’t wait for the organ bit,” I’d think. “Such a tune. Hope this vicar does the ‘forever hold your peace’ bit too.”

Related: Every time I tried to go vegan, my mum hailed it as a fadCoco Khan

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When my arranged marriage ended, my parents decided to set me up again. But finding love isn’t that easy...

I was 19 the first time marriage was mentioned. My mother told me about a young man whose family had expressed an interest in me, and then she promptly left the house. The realisation that I was of marriageable age was clearly as difficult for her as it was surprising to me. I was a geeky young woman who had never even shaken hands with a man, let alone had a boyfriend. I’d attended an all-girls Catholic school before opting to study science at university. My life was Malcolm X and Maya Angelou, X-Men and Spider-Man; summers were spent at my nani’s house in Karachi, and winters trudging through Yorkshire snow. Bespectacled before it was cool, I was short-sighted in more ways than one, young enough to believe that good things happened to good people.

My first husband was 11 years older than me. We met only once before the wedding, but spent the year leading up to the big day talking on the phone. I was in my final year at university. He was a doctor – the ideal profession for a son-in-law – and the eldest of two sons, who had moved to the US from Pakistan after finishing medical school. We married on 6 September 1996, and flew to Mississippi, where we were to live in a pretty white doll’s house of an American home.

The idea that Islam does not allow a woman the right to divorce her husband is a lie spread by cultural stigma

I began to feel afraid for no reason; I lost weight – it seemed I had married a man and his mother

My husband isn’t religious, but he proved how much he wanted to marry me by visiting the mosque every day for two weeks

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