The Marriage Doctor; Traditionally, Divorce Rates Soar in Janurary. Laura Davis Meets the Man Trying to Keep Couples Together

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Davis

MORE couples will file for divorce this month than any other in 2007. For many struggling relationships, increasing tensions over Christmas and the promise of a fresh start in the New Year have put the final nail in the coffin.

And although divorce rates appear to be dropping - the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show 155,000 granted in 2005, the lowest since 2000 - a new poll has revealed that nearly a fifth of couples in Britain are on the brink of splitting up.

"Christmas often brings things to a head," explains marriage advisor David Foster. "Couples can be very disappointed when things don't go well and it highlights existing problems in their relationship."

Of the 2,000-plus people questioned by the website, Insidedivorce.com, 16% described their marriage as "on shaky ground", while a further 2.5% said it was "on the rocks".

The result is that solicitors are expecting a surge in the number of people instructing them to start the paperwork needed to begin divorce proceedings this month.

But while the legal profession is filling its appointment book, David's mind is on happier endings.

His Warrington-based company, Amicable, works as a one-stop shop for couples who feel their marriages are in trouble.

If a reconciliation is at all possible, he claims to be able to set them on the right path within just two days. However, if they feel a permanent break is the only solution to their problems, he offers a divorce planning service, aiming to make the process as quick and as painless as he can.

"I am old-fashioned and I think marriage should be forever," admits David, despite being divorced himself.

"Relationship problems usually start with a feeling of disappointment that moves to other feelings. One or both people may feel lonely or neglected or not listened to."

David's technique involves spending around two days in face-to-face counselling with the couple. During part of the session, he asks them to choose from a list of things they want and do not want from their relationship.

On the "want" list are love (giving), love (receiving), freedom, intimacy, good communication, adventure, peace of mind, confidence and financial stability, among others. The "do not want" list includes conflict, rejection, disappointment, pressure, manipulation, guilt, routine and boredom. …