Latest research from Marriage Foundation, a think tank dedicated to building stronger families, has found that the recipe for relationship success lies in making the decision to commit before starting a family.
Marriage Foundation, which was set up in 2012 by former High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge, has found that 76 per cent of mothers who married before giving birth remained intact, compared to 44 per cent of those who married after they had their first child.
The difference between tying the knot before children and after was found to have a greater impact on a couple’s chance of success than their level of education.
Among women who married before their first child, 82 per cent with a degree stayed together, only marginally above the 74 per cent of non-degree educated women.
The research, co-produced by Harry Benson, Research Director of Marriage Foundation and Stephen McKay, a professor in social research at Lincoln University, used the latest data from Understanding Society, a UK longitudinal study that regularly surveys 40,000 households.
Harry Benson commented: “This is really exciting new research which shows that education and age do not dictate the success of relationships as was previously thought.
“It barely seems to matter if women are younger or older, degree educated or not; so long as they make a plan for their future and marry before starting a family, they have a really good chance of making that relationship last.
“It stands to reason that there’s one system that works best. It’s one that worked for years.
“Just because we have rightly done away with the social shame of having children outside marriage, it doesn’t mean we should dismiss the value of crystallising commitment before starting a family.
In line with previous Marriage Foundation research, 92 per cent of the couples surveyed who remained intact after fifteen years were married.
Of the mothers who were cohabiting at the time of their first child’s birth and never took the decision to marry stayed together, only 31 per cent had avoided family breakdown by the time their child took their GSCEs.
Marriage Foundation is launching a manifesto, which urges the Government to overcome their trepidation in championing marriage as the best chance families have to stay together.
Sir Paul Coleridge, director of Marriage Foundation, said, “The next government has a real chance to reduce the marriage gap between the haves and the have-nots. There is a serious and growing cause of real social inequality.
“The myths and misperceptions, such as that cohabitation is as stable as marriage should be eradicated by clear public statements and education.”
The Marriage Foundation manifesto also calls for a cabinet level Minster for Families, a tax and benefit system that supports marriage and sustained relationships, a fund to promote relationships for both children and adults and a complete modernisation of the family law system.