Professionals who could be enlisted to encourage couples to stay together are hostile towards marriage, a columnist has warned.
Cristina Odone made the comments as the Government considers plans to encourage GPs, registrars and midwives to talk to couples about their relationships.
These professionals would then direct them to accredited counselling and relationship support services in an effort to reduce family breakdown, under proposals from the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
But Odone said he will struggle to “rope in help” from professionals such as doctors and registrars, because “most of them don’t believe in marriage”.
“Making you feel confident, making you feel good about yourself: these are the ambitions that the industry supports”, she argued.
“This hostility to marriage permeates every level of the professions that should be offering support to married couples”, Odone explained.
She noted that some relationship counsellors will persuade people to give up on their marriage if they’re unhappy.
“I’ve had friends asking whether I know of any therapists who believe in marriage – because most, in their experience, don’t”, Odone said.
Iain Duncan Smith is “right to try to remove the stigma” attached to seeking marriage help, but needs to “erase the professionals’ hostility to that institution”, Odone commented.
In June, Mr Duncan Smith is expected to present a raft of policies which aim to reduce family breakdown, such as introducing optional sessions within antenatal classes that prepare couples for the potential stress of having a child.
The proposals are to focus not just on the young but on the growing number of older people choosing to split-up as they reach retirement.
Odone referred to a recent survey, which shows cohabiting couples are less likely to stay together once they have children than married couples do.
And according to research, family breakdown costs the UK £46 billion a year.