The divorce rate is so high in Germany that many couples are not bothering to exchange wedding rings to begin with, according to a new study.
Just over half of all marriages end in divorce or 51.9 per cent and most Germans wait until they are aged about 30 to tie the knot. Meanwhile, the number of unmarried couples is rising.
Just recently the German parliament Bundestag passed legislation authorising child subsidies for the first time to unmarried couples. Hitherto, only married couples could apply for tax break subsidies for minor age children.
Now the jewellery industry is stunned by the downturn in wedding rings. In the 1960s, virtually all married couples wore wedding rings on the third finger of their right hands — as opposed to the left hand in English-speaking countries.
That right-hand, left-hand difference caused some confusion in post-war Germany when a British or US soldier assumed a young woman with no ring on her left hand was available — oblivious to the gold wedding ring on her right hand.
Nowadays, however, there is no wedding ring at all in many cases.
The new study by the Allensbach polling institute shows that only 74 per cent of German women wear a wedding ring. Among husbands, only 60 per cent say they wear a wedding band.
In erstwhile eastern Germany, the rates are even lower, with six out of 10 east Germans dispensing with wedding rings altogether.
Germans marry and divorce at such a rate that wedding bells sound like an alarm clock. And that also reduces their desire for new wedding rings each time around.
Men younger than 29 years happily buy wedding rings and 88 per cent of them wear them. But after a bitter divorce, they are increasingly disinclined to buy rings for their subsequent wedding partners, and the proportion plummets accordingly.
Among the 45 to 59 year-olds, only about half of wedding-weary bridegrooms fork out the money for nuptial rings.
The wedding ring study comes on the heels of two other recent studies showing that German men lie more frequently than women and also that German men are naturally stingy and greedy.
While 70 per cent of German women try to tell the truth and feel very guilty about telling even a white lie, a study by the GFK polling institute shows that barely half of all German men have any qualms about lying.
The study also showed that men have rationalised mendacity down to a science. About a third claimed flatly that they never ever lie, but that they "stretch the truth a little" or else conveniently "forget some details" when doing so would save them embarrassment or aggravation.
The pollsters said it was clear that those 32 pe rcent had created such a broad definition of "never lying" in their own minds that they could engage in outrageous, bald-faced lying with a clear conscience. In other words, these men had no qualms.