The latest Marriages and Divorces 2019 report released by Stats SA shows that the median ages of bridegrooms and brides in civil marriages were 37 years and 33 years respectively.
This key finding shows that most men wait until they are close to 40 before they settle down but what is interesting is those marriages don’t last, with the median ages at divorce being 45 years for men and 41 years for women.
According to life coach Fundi Ndaba there are reasons why men are delaying marriage. “It is not by any fault of their own,” says Fundi.
“The social system of broken families where parents are separated by their responsibilities is to blame. In many homes we see the father is a migrant worker leaving the mother to raise the children alone. As a result, family values are not instilled. Marriage does not seem to be a priority.”
Nthabiseng Lebina, a social worker, offers a different perspective. She says men may decide to marry late for different personal reasons which may include the need to be financially stable and to focus on personal growth with special focus on emotional and psychological well-being so they are better able to navigate the demands of marriage.
“Family circumstances whereby the man is still taking care of his siblings and or taking his time to find the most suitable partner also play a role,” Nthabiseng says.
Fundi concurs with the last point and says sometimes men say their girlfriends are not what they are looking for in life, without communicating that to their partners.
“When they eventually do get married, they both realise there is a shift in responsibilities and the roles they need to play as husband and wife which do not necessarily match their expectations, often resulting in divorce,” she says.
Speaking of divorce, the report says there were 23,710 completed divorce forms processed in 2019, indicating a decrease of 6,2% from the 25,284 divorces processed in 2018. The report also shows more women initiated and filed for divorce than men.
“Apart from feeling ready for marriage, one needs to understand that marriage is ongoing work and a failure to keep up with the required work may lead to divorce. One also needs to find a balance between an ideal marriage and a real marriage because living in an ideal marriage can make one struggle to adjust to reality, leading to frustration and ultimately divorce,” Nthabiseng says.