Why marry?

The most striking statistic revealed by the Focus on Families report published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday is the huge increase (nearly 65%) in 'cohabiting couple families' over the last ten years. This is considered important, as statistics also reveal that 'married couple families' are healthier and their children are higher achievers.

So why are more couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry? Here are some of my ideas:
  • The expense of getting married, especially when it costs so much more to buy a home.
  • A perception that marriage is no longer 'forever', so why bother?
  • A lack of respect for the 'institution' of marriage, especially as so many younger people witnessed the failure of their parents' marriage.
  • A perception, especially amongst men, that they will lose out financially should the marriage fail.
  • A perception that it makes little difference whether you get married, especially in the light of tax changes.


  1. You have omitted the influence of benefits on the decision: an average married couple with two children pays £5,000 more in tax than they receive in benefits. If they split up the two single households would get £7,000 more in benefits than they pay in tax. Living as an undeclared couple in the mother’s accommodation, a single mother with two children and her working boyfriend earn £24,098 per annum; if they declare their status their income drops by £9,000 to £15,080. (Source: Kirby, J., The Price of Parenthood, Centre for Policy Studies, January 2005.) Also look at Patricia Morgan, The War between the State and the Family: How Government Divides and Impoverishes, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, March 2007.

  2. Thanks Nick. Very strange policies for a government that claims to support marriage.

  3. Perhaps there is another reason why co-habiting couples do not wish to marry: many of us grow up witnessing the horrendous scars that divorce can leave on individuals, often close family members or friends. It might be worth considering the role the Family Courts play in Britain in exascerbating those scars. Declining levels of competence within the legislative and policy-making sectors and a distinct lack of funding for the Family Courts, means that the system cannot offer the divorcing parties the level of service and the resources they need to get them back on their feet and back into society at present.
    A new web site has launched, describing the realities of the divorce courts in Britain. It calls for higher standards within the industry and better funding. Perhaps if people are taken better care of by the legal system when they divorce, the fear factor permeating the philosophy of marriage might evaporate and people may once again rediscover the fruits of matrimony.
    The site can be found at http://www.sobk.blogspot.com


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