I am tired of hearing people who have never been through the process implying it's a doddle, and something done for a laugh or because you're bored. My marriage was pretty good to start with and then fairly grim, but even its worst moments paled by comparison with the 16 months it took to end the union.
It was not a decision I made lightly, it was no fun, and it took me a good couple of years before I felt like I was back on my feet. To have that dismissed as 'easy' or the cause of social breakdown - when I regard it as a great social freedom - sends me into a fury, every time.
But then a driving test has a course of lessons and several exams. Getting divorced comes down in the end to filling in a bunch of forms which, in theory and if you're not married to a twat like I was, can end your marriage in six weeks.
What the good judge failed to mention is that getting married is simpler still. There are only two forms to fill in and the basic fees are a lot cheaper, if you don't insist on a three-day festival with marquees and foreign heads of state.
So why not make it harder to get married in the first place? All couples could have a course of lessons in the rules of the road they're about to start down. A relationship counsellor teaches them to recognise the hazards and how to navigate them, what is safe and what's ridiculously dangerous.
After that each party has to do a theory test on the basic standards of behaviour, the correct way to deal with problems and a computer simulation in which they are grilled on what might happen:
- Are you prepared to put up with the public humiliation of your partner sleeping with prostitutes? a) yes b) no c) maybe, so long as I get a £4,000 handbag once a week and some hair extensions
- You've been caught with two lapdancers and some cocaine in a hotel room 18 months after your marriage to the granddaughter of the leader of the Catholic Church in the UK. Do you a) blame the newspapers b) shout 'AHA!' c) get a second series?
- If you take a holiday with your partner to India will you a) visit the Taj Mahal together b) visit the Taj Mahal alone?
- Has every first-born male in your partner's family since 1066 had a mistress? a) yes b) no c) shit
- Your partner likes cats and hates dogs, and you like dogs and hate cats. What are the chances of your marriage lasting more than two years, nine months, and three weeks? a) 100% b) 50% c) 20% d) 0%
- Your mother sends your partner an email outlining their faults. Do you a) hide b) emigrate c) talk to both parties in an effort at reconciliation d) post it on the internet
If I'd been asked some of those questions before I wed, I might have realised before the ring went on that not only were we ill-matched the man was a dog-hating idiot capable of making Steve Coogan look committed and mature.
As for who should be the instructors - that's obvious. The divorced.
Fancy a ride?