• Germany's news in English

Germans cool to marriage and monogamy

The Local · 28 Apr 2011, 15:28

Published: 28 Apr 2011 15:28 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Some 53 percent believe most couples won’t stay faithful during their marriage or partnerships. And an overwhelming 80 percent think divorce is no big deal, according to GfK market research firm's survey of 2,028 men and women from throughout the country.

"Our culture is not as supportive of partnerships as before and the marriage vows are not as binding,” said Hamburg-based psychologist and couples therapist Oskar Holzberg.

Experts like Holzberg say laissez faire attitudes about relationships and breakups have become more common, in part because divorce no longer carries the same social stigma it did just a few years ago – especially not for women.

According to Elke Rohmann at the Ruhr University in Bochum, roughly two-thirds of all divorces each year are now initiated by women. She said women had become more financially independent and were no longer prepared to continue with a dysfunctional marriage at any cost.

About a third of the roughly 375,000 German marriages that take place each year end in divorce, according to government statistics. But contrary to popular opinion, many of the failed marriages last quite a long time – on average they end after more 14 years.

Story continues below…

DPA/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:13 April 28, 2011 by danceswithgoats
The future belongs to those who show up for it. The developing attitude discussed in this article is also resulting in a demographic death spin for Germany and Germans. Too bad.
16:49 April 28, 2011 by jmclewis
Marriage those lacking Honor, Courage and Commitment need not apply!
18:39 April 28, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
Treating divorce as "no big deal" is selfish and shameful. Don't marry someone if you have doubts about the relationship in the first place! No wonder Germans are such heavy drinkers - they are increasingly lonely because of this casual attitude toward relationships - not being open to any real connection.
20:32 April 28, 2011 by raandy
Why bother to buy the cow when the milk is free.
22:09 April 28, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, what humanity doesn't realize is that all forms of immorality comes with a price.

There are all sorts of problems associated with non-committed, intimate realtionships.

A marriage, which is a relationship that consists of two "Qualified" people, is actually a very positive thing.

Most marriages fail simply due to the fact that most participants are not mentally and psychologically stable (qualified).
01:30 April 29, 2011 by iammucow
I think it needs to be pointed out that marriage and divorce rates in Germany are pretty much on par with the rest of Europe and that German attitudes towards marriage aren't really exceptional. Most statistics show the divorce rate in the US being substantially higher than in Germany, but it's not going into a "demographic death spin". Childbirths outside of wedlock and single-parent households are also less common in Germany than the US and many European Countries. If anything, it sounds like they're being more moral and realistic about marriage and child rearing.
09:18 April 29, 2011 by tallady
Logic Guy What guide lines are you using for your immorality parameters?

There is nothing immoral about a relationship between two consenting adults whether it is sanctified by the state or church or not sanctified at all.

Germany has a very functional and orderly society.
09:48 April 29, 2011 by Roxt
I'm beginning to become skeptical of the articles written on here. The majority are short and vague. Yes, I'm sure on this survey the question was worded, "Do you think divorce is no big deal?"

As for my opinion on divorce, it is a big deal. That does not mean I am against it. I have been divorced. My ex-husband turned out to be insanely abusive in every way possible. I wish I had noticed the signs before I married him, but I didn't. I sure as heck don't feel guilty for getting a divorce.

I do believe in working through hard times and not leaving at the first sign of discomfort. I don't believe in staying married when someone is being abused or someone is abusing children. Or hey, maybe there isn't abuse, but the couple is arguing constantly in front of their children. Mature adults would try to work on it, but if they can't... they are endangering their children's mental/emotional well-being and need to make a choice of what is right for their kids. How about adultery? There are so many circumstances.

Yet another article obviously taken out of context and sensationalized.
10:01 April 29, 2011 by B-Squared
@iammucow: What is your reason for dragging the US into the conversation, troll? How about putting your other points into perspective as well. There are more than 3 times as many people in America, and almost 7 times as many yearly marriages. Germany's birthrate is one of the lowest in the western world; maybe that's why "Childbirths outside of wedlock and single-parent households are also less common in Germany". A bad situation anywhere is still that. You should stop trying to make the situation look better by comparing it to another country, then saying "they're being more moral."
10:34 April 29, 2011 by PawD
You're supposed to marry someone when you are absolutely sure that you are completely compatible with that person and are prepared to commit to that person for the rest of your life... the Western 'affluent' nations have absolutely defiled the word MARRIAGE!!!!
10:44 April 29, 2011 by pseu
Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" is the theme song for europeans. Most of my neighbors have been living together unamarried for 15 years and have no plans of kids. They would rather go roller blade to the cafe by the river and sleep in after a night of drinking than grow up.

I do not blame them, why should they not be selfish with their lives? They want their vacation days and to give the government any responsibility they can.

Who knows, maybe that is the better way to live your life.
11:08 April 29, 2011 by iammucow
@B-Squared: US was just the country that had the highest divorce rate in the statistics I found, that's the only reason I used it as an example. Of course, you're right, I only looked at the divorce rate, which was a mistake. Looking at the marriage rate as well, it appears that approximately the same percentage of marriages end in divorce in both the US and Germany. Still, I was centrally trying to dispute was that the fact that the article makes it seem like Germans are especially flippant in regards to marriage and divorce, when in fact their attitudes appear to be well within the norm for Europe. I was also disputing danceswithgoats's claim that this is the cause for German's "demographic death spin" as not all the countries that share such attitudes on marriage are facing the same demographic trends.
11:33 April 29, 2011 by delvek
Wow, I couldnt imagine my life without my best friend and our three children. Ups and downs I wouldnt trade it for the world.
11:35 April 29, 2011 by Angry Ami
The Stats are close enough, been married to my wife going on 9 years, she had an affair, but I chose to stay with her, and it turns out that the grass wasn't greener, some friends of ours, been married 22 years, both had multiple affairs over the years, but they stayed together, I think the difference is generation, we're all children of the 60's, "oldschool" if you will, so the idea of staying together through tough times is part of our upbringing our values, and I think we will be the last such generation, now days people get married without even really knowing each other, and divorce over the least little difficulty, I have 11 friends who are divorced or separated, the question is how important is commitment and partnership, weather on paper or not, I also know couples who are not married and have been together for decades, and their relationship still works, I think one of the big problems in Germany is the conflict between the old model of a woman staying home and caring for the kids while the man goes off to work, which most German women rebel against, one of the main problems that I've observed here is that most women here see men as opponents, so if one takes that mentality into a relationship then it's doomed from the start, it's supposed to be a partnership, which unfortunately is seldom the case, it ends up being a battle of wills, which leads to conflict or even violence, so before people commit they might want to be certain that they have solid ground to stand on in the first place, and that both sides are unified.
11:44 April 29, 2011 by LecteurX
@PawD "the Western 'affluent' nations have absolutely defiled the word MARRIAGE!!!!" with lots of exclamation marks to make your point more clearer, I guess.

So, "the Western affluent nations" have defiled the word 'Marriage', right? Who exactly has it right? The Indian Sub-continent and many other parts of the world where marriages last for a lifetime after they had been arranged by the families and groom and bride meet for the 1st time on their wedding day? Or maybe the Western world a few generations ago (the golden age of marriage for you, I guess), when marriage was mostly a matter of social convention, political advancement, business gains or heritage for the bourgeoisie and the nobility, and everybody (at least, men) had affairs and went to the brothel?

Please get a grip.
11:52 April 29, 2011 by delvek
No offense but it should be a friendship not a partnership. Partnership conveys a business aspect devoid of the words love, care, respect and honor.

When I hear of people having affairs I dont see how its even possible. It would kill me to do that to the most important person in my life, furthermore, I cant imagine sex being better then our intimacy.

The article is a sad summation of the casualness society has become. If you look at the problems we face it explains why.
13:49 April 29, 2011 by T.J. Morton
@PawD - "...the Western 'affluent' nations have absolutely defiled the word MARRIAGE." And what about the Eastern, perhaps less affluent nations - the ones where it is common for a man to marry multiple women and father numerous children? Because that version of marriage is so much better?
14:02 April 29, 2011 by venkyfra
variety is spice of life.. nothing wrong in disliking monogamy..

@LecteurX, pls note in Indian subcontinent polygamy is practised(though its not legal but not punishable as per Indian constitution)..
16:45 April 29, 2011 by digital47
Soon Germany will be the new Turkey and you will change your mind about marriages...and if you don't.....they will do it for you.
23:53 April 29, 2011 by Curmudgeon
I am in my 60s. 40 years ago, all of the anti marriage propaganda started, and many people of my generation lapped it up. I have had an affair, divorced, and remarried. The affair and subsequent divorce had significant negative health and social ramifications for me, my ex-wife, and my new wife. To pretend these are not risks is dishonest.

We have been subjected to decades of propaganda about "do your own thing" and anti-Christian and religion vomit. This propaganda tells us that there should be no consequences for our actions. If there are, it is someone elses fault. German and European societies have been heavily influence by Chrisianity, whether people like it or not. The basic tenet of do unto others is the fabric of European societies. Belief systems are what separate people from animals. Without them, people return to base animal instints.

Those that would enslave us need to breakdown what humans really need to be humans: a stable family unit and a national (tribal) identity. The "do your own thing" attitude prevalent today demonstrates lack of identity, lack of committment, and turns the purpose of marriage - to perpetuate the genetic line into little more than simutaneous mutual masturbation. It is all part of the bread and circusses package.

I am prepared to acknowledge that I was duped, and have told my children so. How many others have figured this out?
23:59 April 29, 2011 by Aelfgifu1
I'm shocked to see so many people still claiming that marriage is the only way to have lifelong love and commitment between two people who love each other. If you love each other and decide you want to spend the rest of your lives together, formalizing that decision with a marriage is superfluous and unnecessary. It's about love, not about how society says you need to announce your love to the world (i.e. through marriage.) Just be you and live your own lives... together.

For example, the person above who says s/he couldn't imagine her/his life without his/her best friend and three children didn't need to be married to have all of that. Maybe it was wanted, but it wasn't necessary. And if the couple had decided not to get married, but still spend their lives together and have kids, it would have been no less of a commitment than the one they have now.

And to the person who thinks it's selfish for her/his neighbors to not marry and have no children after fifteen years, but rather live their life they way they want: How on earth is that selfish?? You must have just chosen your words poorly, right?

Oh, and this statement here: "You're supposed to marry someone when you are absolutely sure that you are completely compatible with that person and are prepared to commit to that person for the rest of your life... the Western 'affluent' nations have absolutely defiled the word MARRIAGE!!!!" is completely factually incorrect. In the entire history of marriage, this concept is still a new idea and actually impossible to achieve. And still, who does that? After all, people change. The person you're completely compatible with at age 30 is going to be a different person at age 50 and so are you.
00:59 April 30, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
Delvek is absolutely right. If someone is actually important to you, then monogomy makes sense, and can be great. I am a man, and I believe this. And no, I'm not a liberal tree-hugger douche. There is a time for playing the field, and a time to grow up and want something more. Its natural, and reawrding. Damn, who said its better to live your life selfishly? I feel sorry for you. Living selfishly means being truly alone for life.
23:37 May 1, 2011 by Aelfgifu1
I interpreted Delvek's comments as being pro-marriage, not pro-monogamy. Monogamy exists independently from marriage. I am also pro-monagamy.

Pseu mentioned that his/her friends were being "selfish" with their life choices.
00:07 May 2, 2011 by nparry
The declining birth rate and marriage rate among Western Europeans is a very welcome trend. The fewer Germans we have, the lesser are the chances for Nazism to spread. Like individuals, nations have "KARMA" too and now it's coming full circle. Very soon, most of Western Europe will be occupied by beautiful, elegant Eastern Europeans & Turks. Blonde Western Europeans will be a trickle here and there. And the cycle will go on.
11:56 May 5, 2011 by PetraS
Two facts that many people do not want to face: like 97 percent of mammals, humans do not mate for life; second, we humans, again like most animals, are not monogamous even when we have paired. The marriage ideal is actually quite unnatural. Mating for life and being monogamous does indeed have benefits, as does being a vegetarian. But like being a vegetarian, it goes against our nature and most people just don't follow that path.
Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd