There is a certain inconsistency in the views people hold about divorce. Table 15.23 shows that there was a widespread view that marriage should be for life (78 per cent); that people should enter mar- riage without even entertaining the possibility of divorce (87 per cent); that marriage should be approached with the intention of it being perma- nent; and over two-thirds (70 per cent) believed that it is too easy to get a divorce. At the same time, the commitment to marriage was conditional on happiness and fulfilment, and there was agreement that since things can and do go wrong, divorce is acceptable under certain circumstances.
Only 14 per cent said that marriage should be for life if the couple is unhappy; only 29 per cent rejected divorce when a couple cannot work out their problems; and only 19 per cent believed that an unhappily married couple should stay together just for the sake of the children. Less than half (44 per cent) thought that, regardless of individual happiness, a marriage should remain intact if a partner becomes mentally or physically disabled.
Despite the different impacts of divorce for men and women, there were remarkably few gender differ- ences in attitudes towards divorce. Men and women were at one in: rejecting the view that marriage is for life even if a couple is unhappy; believing that it is too easy to get a divorce; and thinking that it is
wrong to marry without the intention of it being a lifelong relationship.
Where men and women held different attitudes about divorce, men were more opposed to divorce. They were more likely to say that: marriage is for life (81 per cent men compared with 76 per cent women); an unhappily married couple should stay together for the sake of the children (24 per cent men compared to 15 per cent women); and if a partner becomes mentally or…