PARENTS

The Semi-Detached Parent: Cohabitation And Family Decline

22/04/2011 14:19 | Updated 22 May 2015
The Semi-Detached Parent: Cohabitation and family declineGetty

Last week we reported that a study by the Centre for Social Justice showed nearly half of all youngsters can expect their parents to separate by the time they are 16.

The Centre's executive director, Gavin Poole, largely blamed living together outside of marriage for the degeneration in traditional family life, saying: 'Current high levels of cohabitation are a key factor in the rise in family breakdown in our country and this paper shows that we have not been here before. Marriage and commitment tend to stabilise and strengthen families and cannot be ignored. The peculiarly high levels of family breakdown found in Britain are at the heart of the social breakdown which is devastating our most deprived communities.'

I've written about this before, and questioned whether my own relationship would have lasted if we had married (as my family so desperately wanted us to). I've come to the conclusion now, that it probably would have done.

Amongst my circle of friends, all those who married and then had children are still together (and oh how we mocked them at the time, 'smug marrieds' and 'we'll give them a year – 18 months at most' whispered behind their backs). Nearly all those who had children but did not get married, have now separated, some have since married someone else, and most are in new relationships.

But, what I find most telling is that those who did not marry first time round, seem rather keen to this time. I don't know if that is because they are older and they are over the late-teen-early-20s need to be vocal about not needing to have a piece of paper to prove their commitment, or if it's just because they are all rapidly approaching 40, and maybe see it as their last chance to wear a meringue dress and spend an afternoon eating wedding cake. Or maybe, just maybe, they have decided that marriage is the key to putting in the effort and pulling out all the stops to make a relationship – and a family – work.

Whatever the reason, the half a dozen single mum friends I have discussed this with, all seem pretty determined to do things 'differently' this time round; and that difference does mainly seem to be getting married.

So maybe Gavin Poole is right. What do you think?

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