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Thursday, 09 Feb 2017

Dr Becky Spelman on Sky News: The Economy of Relationships

By Private Therapy Clinic

Dr Becky Spelman discusses the gumtree research and how much you will spend on average across various stages of the relationship cycle.

Isabel Webster: Well, we got a nice cheerful story for you now because we all know that getting married is a costly business, but new research suggest that breaking up could also break the bank. You’re in a miserable marriage but you just can’t get out of it because it’s so expensive.

Stephen Dixon: Yeah, well anyway. Being single is good. In fact, the average cost of living together and then splitting up is actually more than the average cost of a wedding, so if you don’t actually tie the knot, it’s not going to save you any money. Let’s look at the figures. Britain spends £6,382 from the first date to the wedding.

Isabel: Divorces or serious breakups in the UK cost on average £6,717 to be specific.

Stephen: So, 55% more to breakup than it is to just to walk the aisle.

Isabel: So, what are we seeing here? Let’s ask Dr Becky Spelman. She’s a behavioural psychotherapist and has all the answers because other people watching this thinking, shall I propose to my girlfriend and get married..

Stephen: No is the answer there isn’t it?

Isabel: And then people who have been thinking shall I divorce my wife? All the above is no.

Dr Becky Spelman: It’s a complicated topic. And the research by GumTree has found that it is just so expensive. But I thought it was interesting that breakups were more expensive than getting married because the average breakup was causing people £7,000.

Stephen: So what’s involved in that cost?

Dr Becky Spelman: Well, there are so many different aspects. So, when people move out, they have to buy all the items they need, they may have to pay the full cost of their rent, buy a new car, you know, a lot of expenses that people don’t estimate. So, people expect the relationship to cost a lot but they don’t expect that the breakup is going to cost them a fortune.

Isabel: Yes. A lot of people will have things like a joint mortgage even though they’re not married and then they’ll have to be bought out or whatever it might be. So it does, as you say, ends up costing so much. Is there anything that people can do to protect themselves? I mean, it’s not very romantic but as you are entering into a relationship to try and save yourself, it’s always like the pre-nup but without the marriage bit.

Dr Becky Spelman: Exactly. I would say get it down in writing. If you’re ___ [00:02:06] with your partner, make that agreement when things are still positive. Because when things get bitter, how can you agree on it then?

Stephen: Yeah, but come on, you are a behavioural psychotherapist.

Dr Becky Spelman: Psychologist.

Stephen: Oh, psychologist, okay. You’ve got to know that actually if you are thinking along those terms as you’re getting into a serious relationship, then it’s doomed from the start isn’t it?

Dr Becky Spelman: I think you can phrase it in a positive way. Let’s get these things down in writing now before we start owning stuff together, so then we don’t have to worry about it. We can continue on the relationship and enjoy the relationship without having to worry about it coming to an end because 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Stephen: It’s that’s high now.

Isabel: That’s quite high. We are very squeamish as a society about the kind of idea of pre-nups and yet we all accept that having a will is an essential part of security.

Stephen: Yeah, but that’s because we are going to die.

Isabel: It’s inevitable, that’s true. But there is a kind of, you know, as I say, squeamishness and I wonder—

Stephen: I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t sign up a pre-nup.

Isabel: Of course not. Well, no, I wouldn’t either but I’m quite traditional and when I said my vows, I kind of meant them. But who knows what the future holds.

Dr Becky Spelman: I think it’s good to know what you’re going to do. Don’t overspend in the relationship because that’s another thing that people are doing. Buy second hand items rather than all these new stuff, so then if the relationship doesn’t, you got 50% of a chance that it might, then at least you can sell it for the same amount.

Stephen: You see, with these talks about an average relationship cycle, now that’s quite a depressing phase isn’t it? I know that is a reality for most of us but it’s still a bit depressing.

Dr Becky Spelman: We have to be realistic.

Isabel: What’s the cycle?

Stephen: You know, from beginning to end.

Isabel: How long is it? 7 years?

Dr Becky Spelman: And that’s an interesting thing. The average price of a first date is £41.00, just buy them a coffee. It’s the first time you’re meeting the person, don’t over invest. You do not need to buy someone’s affection to start with.

Stephen: Now, that’s a piece of advice I thoroughly agree with Becky. Keep it cheap.

Dr Becky Spelman: I’m glad you agree.

Stephen: Keep it cheap. That’s the way.

Isabel: Oh, that’s so depressing.

Stephen: Oh, it is a bit depressing but you have to be realistic about these things. Becky, good to see you. Thanks very much indeed… I think.

Who can I speak to further about the issues in this article?

For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic.

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