Top Ten Key Facts on Marriage

In the first five years of Marriage Foundation we have focused on establishing the reality of family stability and instability: what actually happens to couples and their children, who stays together and who splits up. This is transforming the debate about marriage which, previously, had been obscured by myths and misconceptions. 

Family breakdown is a serious cause for concern

If current trends remain as they are, any child born today in the UK has more than a one in three chance of not living with both birth parents by the age of 15.

Cohabiting parents make up 19 per cent of all couples with dependent children, but account for half of all family breakdown.

Marriages offer a much better chance of staying together than cohabiting

Nearly all parents (90 per cent) who stay together until their children reach 15 are married.

Parents who are married before they have a child are far more likely to stay together.

Children suffer greatly from family breakdown

Marriage protects children from mental health problems as teenagers. Family breakdown is the single biggest predictor of internalised and externalised problems for boys and girls.

Children are now more likely to have a smartphone than a father at home. Children need father figures, especially boys.

‘Mend it don’t end it!’ Relationships are salvageable

Only 9 per cent of couples who break up have a high conflict relationship – ie, arguing a lot – a year prior to splitting. 60 per cent of couples are both happy and not quarrelling a year prior to splitting.

More than one third of husbands (39%) and wives (36%) cite ‘drifting apart’ as the reason they divorced.

The ‘Marriage Gap’ is dividing the country

Not much more than half of today’s teenagers will marry even though almost all aspire to marriage.

There’s a growing Marriage Gap: 87 per cent of high earners (over £43,000) marry; only 24 per cent of low earners (under £16,000) marry. The rich get married (and stay together); the poor don’t.