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13 February 2012

Press release

Ten myths about marriage

Ten myths about marriage

During National Marriage Week (7-14 February 2012) Evangelical Alliance is highlighting research which dispels some common myths about marriage. 

Peter Lynas, director of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland commented: “Marriage is incredibly important to the individuals involved and to society as a whole.  There are a lot of marriage myths out there from those determined to undermine marriage. But the evidence is overwhelming – marriage works and should be supported, not redefined.”

Peter Lynas continued: “Churches and faith groups have always recognised and supported the importance of marriage and the extended family. They are the biggest providers of pre-marriage counselling and a major source of support when people are struggling in their marriages. During National Marriage Week it is great to celebrate marriage and the central role of the church in community life.”

Top 10 myths about marriage:

  1. Young people aren’t interested in marriage. Myth - 89% of young people still want to get married (1)
  2. Less people are getting married. Myth - Marriage rates are actually rising in NI, whereas the number of civil partnerships is falling. There were 7931 marriages in 2009 rising to 8156 in 2010 – a rise of 3%. During the first three quarters of 2011 marriages rose by 5% from 6097 to 6383. During the same period the number of civil partnerships dropped 25% from 91 to 69. (2)
  3. Marriage is the same as cohabitation. Myth - Only 48% of cohabiting couples are still together by their child’s fifth birthday compared to 92% of married couples. (3)
  4. Marriage and divorce are private decisions. Myth – Relationship breakdown in the UK costs £44bn – the annual cost per taxpayer is now £1,470. Costs include tax and benefits, housing, health and social care, civil & criminal justice and education. (4)
  5. Marriage makes no difference to spouses. Myth - Married people live longer, healthier, happier lives. They are far less likely to suffer psychological illness.(5) Married men earn between 10 and 40 percent more than single men with similar education and job histories (6)
  6. Marriage makes no difference to children. Myth - Studies consistently indicate that children raised by two happily and continuously married parents have the best chance of developing into competent and successful adults.(7)Children whose parents marry and stay married are more likely to have stable marriages themselves and to wait until marriage to become parents (8)
  7. People don’t get married in churches anymore. Myth - 70% of marriages in Northern Ireland are in churches. (9)
  8. Cohabitation has replaced marriage. Myth - 75% of those under 35 currently in cohabiting relationships want to get married (10)
  9. Most marriages end in divorce. Myth – Two thirds of first marriages survive until one partner dies. (11) The average length of a marriage in Northern Ireland ending in    divorce in 2010 was 18.1 years, significantly longer than the UK average of 11years. (12)
  10. There is no support for a marriage tax allowance. Myth - 85% of people support giving some financial incentive to married couples through the tax system as a way of promoting marriage (13)

Peter Lynas concludes: “Marriage is under threat on all sides. David Cameron wants to redefine marriage and George Osborne is stalling in implementing the much needed marriage tax allowance. It's time for some clear leadership from both the church and the state supporting marriage.”

Media Enquiries

For more information please contact Peter Lynas at:
info@eauk.org  07899 898066 or 02890 292266

Notes to Editors

The Evangelical Alliance, formed in 1846, is the largest body serving evangelical Christians in the UK, and has a membership including denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. The mission of the Evangelical Alliance is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. According to a Tearfund survey (Churchgoing in the UK, 2007), there are approximately 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK. For more information please visit www.eauk.org

The Evangelical Alliance office in Northern Ireland was opened in 1987 specifically to meet the needs of the community here.

(1) The Opinion Research Business. 2000.Young People’s Lives in Britain Today. London: The Opinion Research Business.

(2) Information on 2010 and 2011 marriage trends can be found here:
The breakdown showing the most popular venue and the locations with the oldest and youngest brides and grooms can be found on this page under Marriage 2010.

(3) Rebecca O’Neill, ‘Does Marriage Matter?’,Civitas, p 5.

(4) www.relationshipsfoundation.org/Web/News/News.aspx?news=135&RedirectUrl=%2fWeb%2fdefault.aspx

(5) C M Wilson and A J Oswald, ‘How does marriage affect physiological and psychological health? Evidence for longitudinal studies’, Discussion paper No 1619, IZA, 2005. Available at ftp.iza.org/dp1619.pdf

(6) Gray, J.S. and Vanderhart, M.J., ‘The Determination of Wages: Does Marriage Matter?’ in Waite, L.J. et al. (eds.), The Ties that Bind: Perspectives on Marriage and Cohabitation, New York: Aldine De Grutyer, 2000, pp. 356-367.

(7) Amato, P., November 2004, ‘Tension Between Institutional and Individual Views of Marriage,’ Journal of Marriage and the Family, 66, 959-965.

(8) Hetherington and Kelly, For Better or For Worse, 2002; Ross, C.E. and Mirowsky, J., ‘Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression’, Journal of Marriage and the Family 61, 1999, pp. 1034-1045; Amato, P.R., ‘Explaining the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce’, Journal of Marriage and the Family58(3), 1996, pp. 628-640;

McLeod, J.I., ‘Childhood Parental Loss and Adult Depression’, Journal of Health and Social Behavior 32, 1991, pp. 205-220; Glenn, N.D. and Kramer, K.B., ‘The Marriages and Divorces of the Children of Divorce’, Journal of Marriage and the Family49, 1987, pp. 811-825.

(9) www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/marriages_divorces/MDCP2010.pdf

(10) Institute for Social and Economic Research, British Household Panel Survey, 2009.

(11) ONS 2004, Social Trends 34, p4

(12) www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/marriages_divorces/MDCP2010.pdf

(13) YouGov polling (conducted in April 2008,n=2654) for Family Law Review, 2009, Every Family Matters, Centre for Social Justice.