Marrying a Faithful Icelander

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Marrying a Faithful Icelander

Photo: Ibrahim Asad

Q: I have heard much about how much Icelanders have sex and how promiscuous they are. I am thinking of moving to Iceland, but I am of the mind that it's better to wait for sex until marriage (not for religious reasons) and that marriage should not end until death. Hence "til' death do us part". I have also heard that Iceland has a high divorce rate. Is there any chance of me finding an Icelandic woman who wants a lifelong marriage, is faithful, and even possibly a virgin?

Connor, USA

A: The short answer is yes. Of course this is perfectly possible! There are as many different types of Icelanders as there are different types of Americans (albeit a lot fewer of them overall!).

The question many Icelandic women might ask you (whether they are faithful virgins or not) is why does it matter so much to you? You say that Icelanders have a lot of sex before marriage and get divorced quite a lot, but that does not mean they are any more unfaithful to their husbands or wives than other nations while they are married. Indeed, the small size of Iceland can make cheating--specifically the risk of getting caught--almost prohibitively risky.

Maybe this contributes to the perceived higher divorce rate, and maybe the empowered position of women is the reason, or maybe it is the strong family structures in Iceland, whereby parents, uncles, cousins etc. all remain an important part of most people's lives. Maybe it is a combination of all three reasons and more. But in a relatively irreligious country like Iceland, there is little reason to stay trapped in an unhappy marriage.

On the other hand, couples in Iceland often tend to live together, and even have children together, before they get married and they only tie the knot when they're sure they really want to.

It is probably for this reason that the three different sets of stats I have researched seem to suggest that the divorce rate in Iceland is actually considerably lower than that in the USA, and not even in the top ten in Europe.