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Golf star in the spotlight after breaking off his engagement

Even if you are not a fan of golf, it has been hard to avoid stories about Rory McIlroy in recent days. The 25 year-old professional golfer’s decision to break off his engagement to Danish tennis player  Caroline Wozniacki has attracted a great deal of attention from the press. They are both young and photogenic of course, and both have won championships, but I think his decision to end the engagement has also attracted attention because there is something rather old-fashioned and uncommon about the move.

After a relationship lasting some two years, Mr McIlroy apparently proposed to his 23 year-old girlfriend on New Year’s Eve during a visit to Sydney. She said yes, and course, the usual wheels will then have started to turn. And now, just five months later, it’s all over.

The County Down native has taken full responsibility for the end of the pair’s relationship, issuing a rather gracious statement through his management company:

“The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails.”

The statement continues:

“There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people. I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times we have had.”

Caroline, meanwhile, has announced on Twitter that things are “hard for me right now”

We cannot know just what went on behind closed doors, but it does sound as though this couple have ended their relationship as smoothly as could be hoped for. Their story does raise some interesting questions about how seriously marriage is taken by those who do walk down the aisle. Wedding planning can be a social juggernaut – and a very expensive one at that. The cost of an average big day is immense these days compared to just 20 years ago. If you get cold feet, how do you back out when the costs are have started to mount and the invitations have started to go out? Family pressure and expectations may be mounting. Many find themselves in a situation in which they are simply too scared or in for too much expense to back out. Wedding insurance doesn’t normally cover cold feet.

Prenuptial agreements – ‘prenups’ – are one way to go. To get out of a looming wedding, impose terms you know the other won’t accept. Insist on those terms and the wedding is sure to be torpedoed. I’ve seen this happen.

As prenups have become increasingly popular, people have started trying to secure them on the cheap. They call round fishing for quotes, as though they were in need of conveyancing work  or something equally routine. But prenups are not to be taken lightly and expertise pays. If a lawyer advises their client to settle for too little, the client could lose out in a  major way and the lawyer could be sued. Trying to guess what may happen in years to come is risky.

When filled with foreboding over their big day, some people turn to their lawyer, tell them they know the upcoming wedding won’t work out, and ask him or her to protect them from the inevitable divorce. I’ve seen this too. Brides have told me that even as they walked down the aisle they knew the marriage would be a disaster. But they still kept on going, ensuring a large helping of heartache for both themselves and their husbands-to-be.

So I do think that in this case, Rory was sensible and did the right thing, however painful a decision it may have been.

Photo by Camron Flanders via Flickr 

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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