Marriage before children is best, new study finds

New research has demonstrated that the “recipe for relationship success” lies in getting married before starting a family.

A study, conducted by the Marriage Foundation, found that 76 per cent of mothers who were married before having their first child remained so 15 years on.

On the other hand, only 44 per cent of those who had a child outside of marriage remained together after the same length of time.


The study was based on data from nearly 1,800 British mothers with teenage children who took part in a survey called Understanding Society.

Its results were welcomed by Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation, who argued that it demonstrates a shift in previous reasoning.

Mr Benson said: “This shows that education and age do not dictate the success of relationships as was previously thought.

Lasting relationship

“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.”

He continued: “The message of this research is clear. For any couple thinking of having children, their best chance of staying together in the long run is by getting married first.”

Sir Paul Coleridge, the head of the Marriage Foundation and a former High Court judge, called on the next Government to address a failure to educate about marriage.


Sir Paul said: “The myths and misperceptions, such as that cohabitation is as stable as marriage, should be eradicated by clear public statements and education.

“Governments cannot legislate directly for stronger families but they can foster the right environment and so make a real difference.”

Last month, figures released by The Relationship Foundation found that family breakdown is set to cost the taxpayer £47 billion in 2015.

Pain and suffering

Their ‘Cost of Family Failure Index’ calculates annually the economic effects on society as a result of families splitting up.

The Foundation said, “the cost of family failure continues to rise”, but “the Index does not even begin to take into account the intense pain and suffering felt by those experiencing family failure”.