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Marital Breakdown during Formation in IME phase 1

Sarah Brush, Ripon College Cuddesdon

Initial Description

According to the Office for National Statistics, “The divorce rate among opposite-sex couples in 2019 increased to 8.9 divorces per 1,000 married men and women [and] … the average (median) duration of marriage at the time of divorce was 12.3 years for opposite-sex couples, a small decrease from 12.5 years in the previous year.”  From our experience of a succession of cohorts of ordinands at Ripon College Cuddesdon in the last five years, we’re aware of a number of instances of marital breakdown in several cohorts which seems to be above the average per capita and below the average in duration of marriage.

Through this research we would like to explore whether this is a significant issue for the TEI sector as a whole and therefore, for the wider church. The study will explore ordinands’ experiences of marital breakdown during IME Phase 1 and how it may relate to their experiences of formation. We hope to use a combination of a survey of TEIs asking for aggregate numbers of married ordinands and number of marriage breakdowns in each of the last 5 years in combination with a more in-depth qualitative element through interviews with some former ordinands about their experience of marital breakdown during formation. The hope is to gain a better understanding of any connections between formational processes/practices and marital breakdown, providing learning for TEIs about how they improve their practice in this area.

In light of the National Church’s current exploration of the theology of marriage through the Living in Love and Faith process, we feel this is a very current issue with relevance for the wider church.

We define marital breakdown as including trial separation, separation, and divorce.