Get married before you have children

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.


Here you can download the Research Briefing Paper as a PDF and the Press Release where it is available.

Media Links

The Times, 9th March 2015
by Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent: “Most marriages doomed to fail if the couple already have child”

The Telegraph, 9th March 2015
by John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor: “Getting married before having children ‘boosts chances of staying together’ – study”

Daily Mail, 9th March 2015
by Steve Doughty, Social Affairs Correspondent: “What a surprise! Marry before having kids and you’re less likely to split: Three quarters of couples who wed before their first child are still together 15 years later”

Irish Independent, 9th March 2015
by Patricia Murphy: “Couples who marry before having children are significantly more likely to stay together”

The Pulse, Nigeria, 9th March 2015
by Bukky Sanni: “Getting married before having children reduces risk of splitting”

Christian Today, 9th March 2015
by Lucinda Borkett-Jones: “Couples who marry before having children are more likely to stay together – study”

Marilyn Stowe Blog, 9th March 2015
“Marriage before children is ‘key to marital success’”

Huffington Post Italy, 9th March 2015 (Italian)
“Il matrimonio è destinato a fallire se la coppia ha già un figlio. Ecco perché”

Die Frei Welt, 9th March 2015 (German)
“Studie: Heirat stabilisiert Beziehung”

Herald Scotland, 10th March 2015
by Colette Douglas, Home Columnist: “Without being judgmental, marriage is the bond that lasts – and works”, 10th March 2015 (Russian)
“Чтобы сохранить семью, нужно пожениться!”

Times Live, South Africa, 10th March 2015
“‘Marriage before baby in carriage’ is recipe for success”

Huffington Post Canada, 10th March 2015
by Joy D’Souza: “Marriage Before Kids Might Be Key To Marital Success”

The Blaze, 10th March 2015
by Billy Hallowell: “The Key ‘Marriage’ Decision That Reportedly Has a Major Impact on Couples’ Chances of Staying Together”

Christian Institute, 10th March 2015
“Marriage before children is best, new study finds”

Cvandaag, 11th March 2015 (Dutch)
by Paulien de Graaf: “Duurzame relatie: eerst trouwen, dan kinderen”

The Times, 11th March 2015
by Carol Midgley: “Research tells me my marriage is doomed”

Cherry Radio, 11th March 2015 (Vietnamese)
“Hôn nhân dễ tan vỡ nếu có con trước khi cưới”, 13th March 2015 (Polish)
“Małżeństwa zawarte przed narodzinami dziecka są trwalsze”

Blog of the Institute for Family Studies, 16th March 2015
by Harry Benson: “Put Marriage Before the Baby Carriage: Evidence from the UK”

Massachusetts Family Institute, 20th March 2015
“Get married BEFORE you have children.”

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