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Marriage, Family and a Sense of Royal Foreboding

Experiencing nerves before marriage is not entirely uncommon. Many people confess to having 'cold feet' before embarking on such a momentous stage of their lives.  Whilst for some, a period of doubt generates renewed confidence in why they originally intended to wed, the reservations are so great for others that they result in planned nuptials being abandoned altogether.

The reasons why individuals think twice about following through on a decision to marry are often complex but, in discussing such episodes with my colleagues in JMW's Family department, it seems that they are frequently linked to relationship history, both that of the couple involved and their peers - their family, friends and acquaintances.

I found myself contemplating the matter having read reports about a letter written in 1980 by Prince Charles which a US collector of royal memorabilia is putting up for sale. The seven-page handwritten letter, to a receptionist at the British Consulate in Montreal whom he met several years before, offers his consolation on her divorce.

In remarks eerily prescient of the demise of his own marriage to the then Lady Diana Spencer, he states: "Thank goodness you discovered the mistake early enough and didn't start a family. Starting a family and making a mistake like that is frankly, something which concerns me enormously."

Leaving aside the Prince's specific situation, what struck me about his comments was how common the sentiments are and what they say about the prospects of someone with those views achieving romantic success themselves.

There are very few of us who might be in circumstances even roughly similar to those affecting the heir to the throne. However, can people who entertain pessimistic notions of marriage have their own happy ending?

In my experience, there are two familiar outcomes for those who try for domestic bliss the second time around - either they end up making the same mistakes as those which accounted for an earlier marriage or they remain determined to learn the lessons of a possibly bitter divorce.

That latter approach is, I believe, one reason why pre-nuptial agreements are very much increasingly adopted, especially by those who may have already exited one marriage. According to the latest available figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), roughly 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce.

So, if divorce is a possibility, why not have a degree of certainty about who gets what should it happen? A pre-nup certainly provides that and, therefore, reduces - if not removes - the acrimony which might ensue. Further ONS data indicates that just over a fifth of marriages in 2012 featured either one or both spouses who had married before.

With such a substantial body of water having flowed under the marital bridge, anything such as a pre-nup which can minimise the chances of those tides becoming particularly choppy and washing away someone's finances and optimism is surely to be grasped with both hands.

Not everyone harbours realistic thoughts of landing a royal partner but I reckon that being practical about relationships can only increase the likelihood of women finding a prince of their own and even real princes finding lasting happiness.

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