Fewer people are getting married now than 10 years ago, female divorcées are getting older and men are more likely to remarry multiple times.
This is according to Statistics South Africa, announcing the results of the “Marriages and divorces 2014” study, which found that wedding bells rang 150 852 times for civil marriages in 2014, cattle were likely slaughtered in the 3 062 customary marriages concluded that year, and there were 1 144 civil unions.
However, the judge’s gavel also came crashing down in divorce proceedings 24 689 times during the same period, up 3,4% from 2013, mainly at the request of the female partner.
Of these, 37,1% of divorcées were from the black African population group, followed by whites (28,2%), coloureds and finally Indian/Asian.
“The men who initiated the divorce were largely managers and administrators (14,5%) while the women were mainly in professional, semi-professionals and technical occupations (14,3%),” read the report.
It said most divorces involve couples who had been married between five and nine years, and that the average age for divorce was 43 and 40 for men and women respectively. More than half of all failed marriages had children under the age of 18.
According to John Soderlund, a counselling psychologist in Pietermaritzburg, the results seem to follow global trends.
“Globally, less people are getting married, choosing rather to cohabit, while women, who have for decades been growing less financially dependent on their husbands, are correspondingly more likely to leave their spouses if they feel they are getting a poor deal,” said Soderlund.
He said this is “probably also gathering pace here [in South Africa]” as women play a more significant role in the economy.
Soderlund said finances and child rearing had “long been the most common points of dispute among couples” in the developed world, and this was “increasingly likely to be the case” in this country, particularly among those who are economically active.
According to StatsSA, a comparison with the 2013 data shows that the registration of civil and customary marriages dropped by 4,9% and 12,5% respectively, but civil unions increased by 15,2%.
“The median ages of first-time civil marriage bridegrooms and brides remained unchanged at 33 years and 30 years respectively.”
While customary marriages were significantly down from 2004 (20 301) to 2014 (3 062), more than 65% of these marriages were registered in KwaZulu-Natal.