By A N Wilson, Mailonline
[...] I hold up my hands. I have been divorced. Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned.
I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the marriage bed.
There were long periods when they found marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching irritation and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply dependent upon one another in old age, and in an imperfect but recognisable way, an object lesson in the meaning of the word ‘love’.
Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinon Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.
In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling.
More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles.
The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings.
It made nearly everyone feel that they were free, or free-er, than their parents had been — free to smoke pot, free to sleep around, free to pursue the passing dream of what felt, at the time, like overwhelming love — an emotion which very seldom lasts, and a word which is meaningless unless its definition includes commitment.
How easy it was to dismiss old-fashioned sexual morality as ‘suburban’, as a prison for the human soul. How easy it was to laugh at the ‘prudes’ who questioned the wisdom of what was happening in the Sexual Revolution.
About one-third of marriages in Britain end in divorce
Yet, as the opinion poll shows, most of us feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with a succession of lovers.
In fact, it is having a long-lasting, stable relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong marriage.