Like most people, I believe marriage – whether traditional or a de facto relationship - is a big commitment. But is marriage forever?
There is no doubt in my mind that most committed couples want relationships to last forever. Their intention to make it work is strong, especially in the beginning.
But for one reason or another marriage may not be forever and I think that more people are coming to the realisation that they may end up having more than one serious partner in their lives.
In fact, independent research by our family lawyers has found that one in five Australians feels this way.
We surveyed more than 2000 people in married and de facto relationship and of those, 20 per cent admitted that they went into their relationship not expecting their union to last forever.
It was still pleasing to see that the majority of Australian couples – 80 per cent – still have faith in the institution of marriage; most of us believe that when we say “I do” it means “til death do us part”.
It’s also interesting that the younger the respondents in our survey were, the more likely they were to think they would eventually separate from their partner.
Around one third or 32 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 said they went into a serious relationship not expecting it to last, but only 10 per cent of over 55s felt the same way.
This might reflect a changing landscape or it might just be that younger generations have a more pessimistic outlook.
Obviously the answer to that would require more in-depth, longitudinal research.
There was also slightly difference among state lines.
South Australians were the most optimistic about the long-term prospects of their relationships - with 83 per cent of respondents saying they made a commitment to their partner believing they would stay together forever.
The percentage of Queenslanders who believed their unions would last forever was 82 per cent. In Victoria 81 per cent of respondents expected their relationships to last, while 78 per cent of respondents from NSW were of the same view.
At 76 per cent, Western Australian couples were the least likely to believe their relationship was forever.
The key to a long lasting relationship, couples have told me, is trust and mutual respect.