Today’s issue of the British Social Attitudes Survey highlights how attitudes to marriage, sex and parenthood have changed over thirty years.
The big picture suggests that we have lost confidence in marriage. Attitudes have become more liberal. We have become more relaxed about whether those who have children should get married. And we are most relaxed of all about sex before marriage.
Yet we have not abandoned marriage altogether. Nearly half still think couples should marry if they have children. Six out of seven of us think unfaithfulness is wrong.
These attitudes reflect the doubling of family breakdown during the last thirty years. We still value commitment and faithfulness. We just don’t see the link with marriage.
The irony is that couples are most likely to find commitment within marriage. Success stories outside marriage are the exception. Our own research shows that 93% of intact couples with fifteen year old children today are married.
The tide of family breakdown will turn when we regain confidence that marriage is the best way to help couples and families to stay together.
Harry Benson is a spokesperson for the Marriage Foundation
Notes to editors:
For media inquiries please contact Harry Benson, who is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.
The Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 40 years as a barrister and judge specialising in family law. The Foundation seeks to improve public understanding of marriage reduce the numbers of people drawn into the family justice system – some 500,000 children and adults each year.