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.