The end of the institution of marriage has been predicted for a long time. After all, Britain has never been more secular, as weekly Church Of England attendances recently dipped below 1m a week for the first time - and yet, like lambs to the slaughter, we all still queue up to do it with the last three years seeing the number of married couples stablise, and begin to climb.
One programme adding to those numbers is Channel 4's Married at First Sight, which sees strangers matched together through science with their ideal partner, with the top four most compatible couples getting married. Like all newlyweds, they'll need every bit of help and advice to get through the transition - so here's our top ten tips to help them (and you) through this major life change.
Everyone will ask you 'so does it feel different now you're married?'
And you'll have to politely reply, with an enthusiastic voice: "yeah, it's about the same really! A-ha-ha!"
I mean, what else can you reply with?
"Yes, it's way better! We were already much happier than you could ever be and now it's off the scale!", or, "No, we're both deeply unhappy now ever since the dawning realisation that we're trapped together until the day we die! I cry myself to sleep every night with regret!"
It's like asking whether you had a good Christmas or not. Absolutely pointless. But everyone will still ask you.
You can no longer say 'girlfriend' and it makes you feel like you're a thousand years old
And unless you're a thousand and one years old, this is a serious annoyance. There's no getting around it, whatever the age or beauty of your spouse ('spouse', what a horrible-sounding word): 'girlfriend' conjures up images of a nubile, carefree, hot youngster and 'wife' instantly brings to mind Jim Davidson jokes, nagging and being moaned at for going to the pub.
'Her indoors', 'the better half', 'the good lady' - all awful.
Thesaurus.com suggests 'roommate'. We like that: functional and accurate.
The rest of your life will be a constant struggle against becoming fat
We all like to think we'll continue making the effort once that knot has been tied. And we really try. But, deep down, we know that we could probably get away with a few more pounds and they won't stop loving you - after all, it did say in the small print 'for better or worse', didn't it? That extra cake won't really make the difference? And, hey, as long as we both get fat then neither of us will be at any disadvantage will we?
Next thing you know, you're ordering in that extra large sofa and your parents buy you a Weight Watchers subscription for Christmas whilst looking at you with disgust.
You'll be expected to go to - and host - dinner parties (and enjoy them)
I'm sorry, I didn't realise that when I said those vows that they meant 'I will become so boring that I no longer wish to go to the pub to play pool and have a bloody lager but instead sit smugly around a table talking about the property market, while the cook constantly self-deprecatingly apologises ("oh I knew I left that roasted partridge in for too long, I've ruined it haven't I?") for their clearly-excellent, organically-sourced and hugely expensive meal which they have spent all week preparing in a purposeful effort to outdo all the other people there in an exhibition of oneupmanship Come Dine With Me can only dream of, while patronising any single people who are unlucky/stupid enough to have come along with talk of "we're sure you'll find someone soon, you're just so bubbly!"'.
There is nothing less 'party' than a dinner party. Nothing.
Instead of asking you when you're going to get married, now people will ask you when you're going to have kids
What is it with people? Why do they think such a personal question is acceptable? People are the actual worst aren't they.
"We will be having kids when we're ready to give up on our own lives in favour of a new human who we will sacrifice everything for and then will hate us pretty much from the age of five onwards, if we're lucky."
That usually does the trick.
If either of you change your name, it will be a perpetual admin nightmare
Oh, it seems so romantic at the time, changing your surname to match your beloved's. After all, you used to try it out on schoolbooks didn't you? Well, if you thought the burden of day-to-day admin was bad already, you ain't seen nothing yet.
You'll have to redo your passport, driving licence, bills and email address, constantly have to spell out your stupid new name over the phone when people mishear it and no one will be able to find you on Facebook. Which will be a serious handicap when you're trying to source that high school sweetheart looking for an affair in ten years' time. And now they've closed Friends Reunited too. Unbelievable.
You'll discover what your wife's family is really like
Hey, you're a catch right? Your other half's family clearly can't believe their luck that their daughter is marrying up in such a huge way. They dare not jeopardise getting her off their hands without even having to hand over 30 camels, or whatever the going rate is these days, so they're on their best behaviour throughout. And then you get married. They don't need to impress you now. Now you'll really get the full force of their political opinions, their views on the less appealing aspects of your character - and any complaints or dissent and they'll write you out of their will. Dammit, they're good.
You suddenly experience crushing clarity on the true nature of shit nightclubs
When you're single, municipal nightclubs are thrilling places of cheap booze, usefully dark lighting, thumping chart EDM and the excitement that goes with the possibility of an encounter with the opposite sex.
Post-marriage, once you realise that the last of those factors is very firmly off the table forever, you suddenly realise how much of a blind eye you've been turning to the other factors. And no amount of turbo shandies and Black Eyed Peas can make you un-realise it.
You have a far too easy excuse to leave nights out early
Having said all that, there is absolutely no excuse not to go to good nightclubs, where great music is played, great people abound, and you can bond with your greatest friends. Or to right the wrongs of the world with brilliant like minds in the pub, of an evening or a weekend. But now, at the back of your mind, you know you have a ready made excuse when the going gets tough - when it's 11pm and you're a bit tired and it's a big day tomorrow - "yeah, the wife says I have to go home now, sorry lads, better make a move".
DON'T DO IT. Your friends will hate you, and we all know the best bit of a night out comes just after you sort of want to go, but have that one extra drink, and then something brilliant happens, or that awesome song finally comes on. There's a reason God invented peer pressure: always, always give in to it. It's a choice to be boring, people.
Homebase becomes an absolutely excellent way to spend a Sunday
Let's face it, you've always known this. But now it's socially acceptable to admit it. Checking out the power tools? Mulling over a new set of stepladders? Stocking up on special offer de-icer? Perusing the heaven that is the garden section? Frankly, it's worth getting married for this alone.