Marriage is not for everyone. But for those that seek successful marriage and a fulfilling family life in which to raise healthy and happy children, functional families are seen as the bedrock of successful societies. But whilst attempted by many, many fail.
In 2015 there were 118,962 marriages in Australia down from 123,244 in 2011, with 72% being a first marriage and 28% a remarriage, with brides aged 29 and grooms 34, with 73% conducted by a marriage celebrant, with the remaining 27% by a religious organisation. The average length of marriage increased from 10.7 years in 1993 to 12.1 years in 2015 with the median age of divorce females 42.9 and 47 for males however there is estimated to be 2/3 of marriages that are unhappy after 5 years. And remarriages didn’t fair any better, with a greater proportion more likely to divorce than those who had not been previously married.
De facto partnering should not be excluded from discussion as many of the attributes and impact to society are prevalent in this cohort also. ABS stats suggest that 4 in 5 couples live together before marriage however research suggests that cohabitation is usually associated with lower levels of martial satisfaction and whilst two thirds of people are partnered, cohabiting has increased to 9.5% with those in married households 50%. One-parent households make up 16% of all households.
The Cost of Family Breakdown
The burden on society, the impact on our children and the impact on government funding to support families in crisis is significant. In Kevin Andrews book ‘Maybe I do’, he claims that >$3 billion p.a. was spent on social security benefits associated with marriage dysfunction in the 1990’s. That figure is a lot larger today. In the UK, the cost to the economy of family breakdown has been estimated at £47 billion (Ashcroft, J. 2015).
In Australia 31% of children aged 0-17 met with their separated parent on a daily/weekly basis whereas, 51% of children did not spend a single night with their non-resident parent and one in four children saw the parent they were not living with less than once a year or never. According to 2011 census data, almost 1 in 5 families were headed by a single parent.
An investment focussed on preventing marriage breakdown and developing relationship skills to assist with the success of your relationship is important, for you and your partner and society.
- Ashcroft, J. (2015) Counting the Cost of Family Failure, 2015 Update. Relationships Foundation, Cambridge.
- Benson, H 2013: The myth of “long-term stable relationships outside marriage”, The Marriage Foundation, May, extrapolated from Census and ONS data.
- Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J. 2006: Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(4), 553-560
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