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MPs, marriage and me on the BBC

Earlier this week I appeared on the BBC’s website, discussing the stresses and strains of life as an MP.

The article, by reporter Justin Parker, asked the simple question ‘Does being An MP make marriage harder?’

Citing the recent divorces of Tory MPs Mark Pritchard and Claire Perry, Pritchard notes that more than 20 MPs have recently untied the knot  and says this something like one and half times the national average.

The question, of course, is whether there is something about life as an MP that makes divorce more likely. Claire Perry certainly suggests there might be. She told her local paper that she and her husband:

“Our marriage has become increasingly difficult for several years. It’s nobody’s fault, no-one has behaved badly, we have just grown apart. We both have extremely demanding jobs and for some time we have been going our separate ways.”

That certainly tallies with my own experience representing a number of MPs in divorce cases: It’s a demanding lifestyle requiring long hours and long periods away from home.

As I note in the article, the job puts MPs under massive stress. The work-life balance is hard to achieve for people who have to devote themselves so much to their jobs. Being an MP, and especially a minister, is not relationship-friendly or child-friendly.

I told the BBC that more MPs get divorced than the average rate among the rest of the population. There are incalculable stresses and pressures on people. Politicians have to be very tough people.

Perhaps the darker sides of a life in Parliament can also help to corrode marriages. The BBC quotes me as saying: “It’s not the most moral of professions, is it? It’s an occupation where you can be economical with the truth.”

The feature also includes some forthright and colourful quotes from former Tory MP Lord Coe, who recalled his wife’s joy the night he lost his seat at the 1997 general election.

“The pattern of life imposed by Parliament is simply not one that works in a modern marriage – in the days of MPs with private incomes and stay-at-home wives, maybe. Things have improved a little, but during my term the earliest you could expect to be out was 10.15pm, and home at 11pm. That was a result. Your wife might actually be awake. You wonder how any MP’s marriage survives at all.”

To read the full article, click here.

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known family law solicitors and divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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  1. JamesB says:

    Are you seriously asking us to be sorry for these people? I hope not, the CSA and MPs expenses and the sword of justice and Aitkin and Archer, MPs expenses, Iraq, Banking, Cigarette lobbyinging, NHS, etc etc.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear James
      My quote in the article:-
      Character traits encouraged by daily involvement in politics could play a role in undermining marital trust, Ms Stowe argues.

      “It’s not the most moral of professions, is it? It’s an occupation where you can be economical with the truth.”
      Regards, have a good weekend,

  2. Luke says:

    “The work-life balance is hard to achieve for people who have to devote themselves so much to their jobs.”

    For jobs that are high paid and high powered ‘work-life balance’ is a load of tosh – there generally (with some exceptions) isn’t any – especially outside government/legal/public sector circles.
    That’s why a lot of people don’t want to go down that path – but for those that do one should have no sympathy at all as they are very well paid and it is their choice.

  3. steve says:

    What utter tosh, most peoples life is hard. Im sure the refuse collector who wakes at 5.00 am has it hard!

  4. JamesB says:

    Lobbying is something which is a can of worms also. I think we should have state funding for political parties. I mean corruption in politicians is a bad thing the world over and the less of it the better I think. The trickle down effect doesn’t work in places like Zimbabwe for example. Yes, hope is a nice weekend for you and me both. The weather seems to be holding.

  5. JamesB says:

    Next you’ll be asking us to feel sorry for the Police ;-).

    Who do I really feel sorry for?

    Children caught between stupidly arguing adults, that’s who I feel sorry for. Hence why I come on here.

  6. John says:

    Oh! The stress of keeping your face straight as you are being ” economical with the truth”!

    They opt to be put in ‘that place’ under the ‘representation of the people act’, and yet some appear to represent their own self serving, self gratifying needs.

    Parliament is well by its’ sell by date. it’s about time it was ‘bulldozed’ (before it falls down), and we started afresh with ordinary people debating and legislating, and not those open to party political sways and, corrupt influence.

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