The seven-year itch is affecting more and more couples. Divorces last year reached a record high of 264,255, a 5.5 per cent jump from the previous year and 32.8 per cent higher than in 1995. However, the group seeking the most divorces were those married for about seven years. Complaints about husbands' employment remained a major factor for women seeking a divorce. Japanese wives are less willing than before to put up with their husbands' work-related stresses or fondness for alcohol-fuelled nights out with office colleagues. Divorces among those aged over 70 also increased, as many elderly couples opted to sell up their property, split the proceeds and move into residential homes where professional care was at hand. Many elderly divorcees said they had simply grown tired of their partners and wanted to spend their twilight years in a community of their peers. Women are more willing than before to go to court, with just over 70 per cent of arbitration in divorce cases initiated by wives. Courtrooms had been seen as unfriendly places for women, but judges have recently been awarding significant increases in child support to mothers. As women become more savvy about their rights, men seem to be stuck in the legal quagmire. Sensing the desperation of husbands, one divorce lawyer - no doubt hoping to tap into their fears and turn an honest yen - has written a book whose title leaves nothing to the imagination: A Legal Course for Thoughtless Men and Wily Women. It shows how unprepared many men are for divorce, and also how ill-suited they were for marriage.