After the romance has faded

A nationwide season of marital bliss has passed Palmerston North and wider Manawatu by, with increasing numbers in the area untying the knot.

Ministry of Justice figures released under the Official Information Act show the number of marriage dissolutions filed in Palmerston North's District Court rose from 2011 to 2013.

While the number of dissolved marriages dropped from 247 in 2011 to 239 in 2012, it bumped up to 253 last year.

The same trend was seen in Feilding and Dannevirke and Levin, with those courthouses also having a drop from 2011 to 2012 before an increase in 2013.

It goes against the nationwide trend, where there were 522 less marriage dissolutions filed last year than in 2012.

Marriage celebrant and Palmerston North City counsellor Tangi Utikere said the news was the last thing a celebrant would want to hear.

"For the people I perform ceremonies for, it's among the happiest days of their lives.

"The difficulty is that no-one knows what the future will bring."

The rise in dissolutions was surely not a blight on Palmerston North, but a possible indicator of society's changing view of marriage, he said.

Some traditional aspects of marriage, such as when you married one person and there was considerable pressure to stay with that person no matter what, no longer applied.

"I've married a lot of people who, for them, it was their second or third marriage.

"Also, a number of people are making the decision to get married much later in life."

Mr Utikere said people always used to get married in a church, which would have involved pre-marriage meetings with church officials to prepare the couple.

But nowadays, couples may not have that guidance, he said.

Palmerston North counsellor Gillian Hunt said when couples often got together, everything was always positive.

However, that soon changed and they could get stuck in a cycle of negativity, she said.

Couples would get into cycles of hurting each other, which led to them giving up on the relationship.

"What happens in counselling, we are able to identify what it is they are doing to the relationship that's destructive and how they can turn it around and feed it back into being positive.

Ms Hunt said if couples were open and honest with each other, and worked on doing loving things for each other, they would have much better relationships.

They also had to accept their relationships would change, and part of having a happy marriage was working through those changes, she said.

Marton looked like the place to be for a good marriage, with dissolutions filed in that courthouse going from 18 in 2012 to seven last year.

However, courthouse services were shifted to Whanganui in the middle of the year, meaning more people travelled there to file their papers.

Auckland was the heartbreak capital, with the most dissolved marriages last year at 965. But there was a silver lining, as that number was far lower than the 1227 filed in 2012.

To apply for a dissolution of marriage certificate, a couple must be separated for at least two years.

Manawatu Standard