That’s (not) what I meant!

    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: That’s (not) what I meant!

    When it comes to love and relationships, there are plenty of people willing to offer advice. However, few of them are as helpful as our columnist Colin Beaven. In Britain Today, he gives some useful recommendations on how to avoid a divorce — and it all comes down to one small word.

    What’s the worst mistake you can make? Perhaps it’s to forget the word “not” in a sentence that needs it.

    It can happen to anyone. It happened to Donald Trump at his Helsinki press conference. He cleared Russia of interfering with the US presidential election. Afterwards, he said he’d meant to say the opposite, but unfortunately he’d forgotten the word “not”.

    It even happened in the Bible, or rather, in an unusual version from 1631 that was recently on show at the British Museum. When you looked closely at one of the Ten CommandmentsZehn GeboteTen Commandments, this is what you read: “thou (veralt.)duThou shalt (veralt.)sollstshalt to commitbegehencommit adulteryEhebruchadultery.” Just to be clear, there’s a word missing: “not”. Was this an error? A joke? Or even a special edition — one intended for VIPs, perhaps?

    Over the years since 1631, many have behaved as if they were using this unconventional version of the Commandments. Not just members of the British royal family; even today, adultery’s the reason given for about one in ten British divorces. The royal family’s big, but not that big.

    Still, only one in ten. It just shows how things have changed. For much of the 20th century, your partner’s adultery, if you could prove it, was more or less the only way to get a divorce. Nowadays, couples can just agree to go their different ways.

    But agreement’s less common than you might think. The number of divorces caused by unreasonable behaviour is almost twice the number agreed by consentEinvernehmenconsent, and four times the number blamed on adultery. The trouble, of course, is that you hear a lot of promises when you get married, but you just don’t know whether they have a Trump-style silent “not” in them. And it’s hard to get objective external advice. There are mugBecher, Tassemugs on sale in gift shops with messages like “world’s best husband”, but you can’t really trust them. Nobody seems to make mugs that say “not the world’s best husband”. Just think of the number of those you could sell. They carry such a valuable warning, and in any case, we all need mugs. Married couples have to replace the ones they throw at each other when they’re having a fight in the kitchen.

    Ideally, you’d be able to identify the people you want to divorce before they ask you to marry them. As a rule of thumbFaustregelrule of thumb, it pays to avoid celebrities, such as politicians who speak and to misspeaksich versprechenmisspeak at press conferences.

    The same probably goes for the rich and famous from other categories, too. One would leave out many from the world of business. Plus the media, entertainment and sport. Then there’s the boss, of course, and the people next door. You end up with a long list of individuals who’d make you go directly to divorce courtScheidungsgericht, Familiengerichtdivorce court if ever you to tie the knot (ifml.)den Bund der Ehe schließentied the knot with them. That’s an alternative expression for “getting married”; this time it’s “knot” with a “k”.

    Never throw that list away. It’ll always to cheer sb. upjmdn. aufheiterncheer you up to think of all the dreadfulfurchtbar, entsetzlichdreadful people you’re not married to.

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