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Fast-track divorces on the rise

The number of streamlined divorce proceedings in Finland has grown rapidly in recent years. Unhappy spouses increasingly avoid the pain of a long, drawn-out process and flee the relationship quickly, often completely surprisingly their partner as they slam the door.

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Image: Johanna Manu / Yle

Lightning-fast divorces are on the rise in Finland. Heli Vaaranen, director of the couples relationships centre at the Finnish family advocacy organisation Väestöliitto says today's individuals can’t take the emotional pain caused by divorce, leading many to end their marriage quickly and leave the bad memories behind.  

Vaaranen says that religious societies still attribute some value to suffering, but contemporary couples just don’t see the point. Increasingly secular cultures give individuals permission to move on quickly if they feel they have to. Now it is easy to take the path of least resistance and get out, without even discussing things with their spouse.

“We see more and more ’note on the table’-type divorces,” Vaaranen says.

Running from their problems

Psychotherapist Anniina Kerman says people are engaging in more unannounced breakups in both marriages and relationships. Of the couples she is consulting, 30 percent are cases in which the divorce notice came as a complete surprise. One day, out of the blue, one of the two says ‘that’s it’.

“Committing to another person is in a certain way too frightening for some people. They think breaking off the relationship is an easier solution, even though it is not. People want to run from their problems instead of facing them,” says Kerman.

Vaaranen says fast-track divorces in Finland are not limited to a certain demographic; rather they are an increasing phenomenon across all ages and regions. And an equal number of men and women are doing the leaving and being left.

“Matchmaking mobile phone applications like Tinder have also fostered this new phenomenon, whereby people leave their partners with no explanation,” says Vaaranen.

Out of sight, out of mind?

The cause of many quick divorces is protracted problems that have been left unaddressed. The unexplored rifts tunnel deeper until someone reaches their last straw. Infidelity and dependency are the most common reasons for divorce, but sometimes financial difficulties are also to blame.

Ignoring problems won’t make them go away.

“After rushed divorces, both parties are left with an odd feeling. They are both left with no explanation for their split, even if it has been a longer marriage,” says Vaaranen.

Spouses who have been left have a harder time entering into a new relationship, because they are not sure why the previous relationship fell apart. They need answers in order to get on with their lives.

Spouses who have left, on the other hand, may find it hard to value themselves after leaving without a word. A bad conscience could haunt them if they never receive a blessing or feel understood.

“The idea of ‘clarifying things’ appeals to women, but men are often frightened off by the prospect. Clarity may never be achieved, however, especially if the other person has fallen in love with someone else or has fallen out of love. But even if everything can’t be made entirely clear, the couple should still strive to discuss their problems,” says Vaaranen.

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