Can a love letter save a marriage?

by Peter Magee on January 17, 2012

Peter Magee
With between 32% and 46% of all Australian marriages ending in divorce, depending on the method of estimation, and similar statistics in some other countries, one postal authority has come up with a novel way to save marriages.

Postal authorities in Beijing have attempted to tackle the soaring divorce rate by sending love letters written by lovers seven years ago. This new service allows couples to post a letter their loved one will receive seven years later, a time when many relationships begin to cool. Special envelopes containing a card for a personalised love note went on sale in Beijing on 9 September 2011. Ideally, when the letter arrives seven years later, the couple will still be together. Of course, the reality is – some of those relationships would have ended by the time the seven years passed.

Is a love letter enough to save a marriage? Whilst this idea is a nice suggestion and may re-ignite the romance for some, the reality is that marriages break down for many different reasons. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs prepared a report in the late 1990s entitled “To have and to hold: strategies to strengthen marriage and relationships”. Chapter 4 deals with factors contributing to marriage and relationship breakdown.

The committee received submissions from a diverse range of organisations, and a common theme of these submissions is that the causes of marriage breakdown are “complex, diverse and interactive and that no single factor can be isolated as the most significant or important reason for marriage breakdown”. Some of the causes of marriage breakdown were cited as:

  • – Unemployment and work related problems.
  • – High risk factors – such as problems associated with alcohol, drugs, gambling, illness and disability.
  • – Cultural issues.
  • – Blended families where there are children from previous marriages, as couples often lack understanding of the complexity of issues they need to deal with, and have unrealistic expectations.
  • – Ease of divorce.

With so many factors contributing to marriage and relationship breakdown, a love letter written seven years ago will hardly be enough to salvage a marriage.

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