Couples who get married before they have children are much more likely to stay together than those who have children first, a new study claims.
Research conducted by conservative think tank the Marriage Foundation analysed data from 40,000 households in the UK. This indicated that as many as 77 per cent of the couples surveyed who had children after they got married were still together. This was significantly higher than the 44 per cent of couples still together who had children before tying the knot.
The Foundation also claimed that marriage had a bigger impact on a couple’s chances of staying together than education. According to the data, those who marry first have a higher rate of staying together regardless of education.
Of the women who married before starting a family, 82 per cent of those with a degree stayed together, as did 74 per cent of those in the same circumstances without a degree. Both of these are significantly higher than for the couples who had children first.
Harry Benson is the foundation’s research director. He said the new study demonstrates that if couples “make a plan for their future and marry before starting a family, they have a really good chance of making that relationship last.”
Although it is a positive step that “the social shame of having children outside marriage” has been effectively eliminated, there is still value in “crystallising commitment before starting a family”, he claimed.
Former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge founded the Marriage Foundation in 2012. In response to this study, he said the belief that cohabitation is as stable as marriage “should be eradicated by clear public statements and education”. Whichever party is in government following May’s general election should “tackle the worrying rise in family instability in the UK”, he added.