Louisa, divorced and now single
When I fell in love with my ex-husband at age 21, I believed that love and marriage could last forever. Fifteen years and an amicable divorce later, I still believe in love. But marriage, I think, has a best before date.
This isn't just based on divorce rates (more than half of marriages in the UK end in divorce), but also on the number of miserable marriages I know - and it's a lot. Sure, people can stay together forever like my grandparents, but are they happy? My grandparents certainly weren't.
Soul mates, everlasting love, together forever: it all smacks a little bit of Peter Pan's Never-Never-Land. Frankly, I think ‘together forever' grew out of women's reliance on men for security. We created it because we needed it, but we don't need it any more. Lone wolves can survive in the wilderness. Bills are paid, children are still reared and new love found.
Read more: 'What it's like to be a single mum in Dubai'
I hear you thinking, ‘Marriage isn't disposable! You've got to work hard at it!' But why should we? If you hate your job, change it. If you've drifted apart from your friend, make a new one. Why isn't it the same with partners? Yes, we live in a disposable society. So, what? Just because you love your iPhone8, it doesn't stop you wanting an iPhoneX. It's the world we live in. Deal with it.
In Germany there's been talk of introducing a seven-year marriage contract; in Mexico, a two-year one. Norma Cairns, counselling psychologist says, "We're living in extraordinary times and pre-nuptial contracts are on the rise. Two years is way too short, I think. But a seven-year one? Maybe."
We live in an era that promotes freedom for individuals, which doesn't fit well with the personal sacrifices needed for together-forever-ness. A survey of couples by Warner Brothers found that 76 per cent of people value their personal space, 55 per cent have to schedule romantic time, and 60 per cent go on separate holidays. Together forever or never together? How many would renew their contract?
Maybe our expectations of marriage have been Hollywood-ised (meaningful looks, freshly squeezed OJ, love-notes on the bathroom mirror). Or perhaps, it's our generation's issues with feeling entitled to perfect happiness. But once the honeymoon fairy dust has worn away to reveal a husband's slobbery and a wife's nagging - this disenchantment takes about three years, according to the Warner Brothers' survey - most couples are left with something that is a lot less than perfect. Should couples stick with an unhappy ending just because once upon a time they said they would? I think we deserve better than that. It's time to take off the rose-tinted spectacles and admit that ‘together forever' may sound nice and cosy, but it's unrealistic. We simply don't live in a forever world.
Read more: 'What's going wrong with UAE marriages?'
Kate, happily married for seven years
Hello. My name is Kate and I am a smug married. Get over it. I am in a great, healthy, committed relationship that has seen good times and, to be honest, terrible times. But I'm here, loud and matrimonially proud.
When I was a girl, divorced couples, and therefore ‘broken homes' were a rarity. As I grew into a teenager, more and more of my friends' parents were getting divorced. When I hit my 20s, things had moved full circle and people my age with parents still together were in the minority. It seems that within a generation, divorce and broken relationships had become the norm, rather than the exception, but I think that is not the ideal that we should be striving for or setting as an example to our children.
As a mother, I am constantly telling my kids to ‘stick with it', ‘don't give up' and ‘nothing worth having comes easy'. Marriage is a prime example. While every long-term relationship has its natural highs and lows (some more mountainous than others), I feel that too many couples take the easy downhill route when the uphill going gets tough.
Call me old-fashioned if you like and I will thank you for it if being traditional means creating family stability, being a good role model and not jumping over the fence at the first sign of some greener, lusher lawn next door.
Life coach Michelle Burton-Aoun agrees. "Happiness, security and commitment are key to a stable marriage and a stable society, one cannot exist without the other. Making a marriage work takes time, patience and commitment... and both partners to do that."
While I'm not advocating staying in an unhappy relationship just for the sake of it I do feel today's disposable, celeb-obsessed, ‘status update' society can't cope with something that takes more devotion than 140 characters.