The first presenter, Mr. Harry Benson, Research Director of the Marriage Foundation-UK asked, “Has government made the problem worse”? What does the data tell us about marriage?” There are very interesting statistics about marriages over 10 years old. Long term stable relationships outside marriage are the rare exception. It is the trend away from marriage that is causing family breakdown. Marriage is all about commitment, a couple with a future. The overwhelming majority of families that stay intact are „married‟ families, compared to „cohabiting‟. (Data: 69% to 15 %). Marriage is an ultimate act of dedication and commitment for the future, building a history and memories.

Families break down when couples move in together too quickly, adding constraints before establishing dedication. Through inertia, they may choose to have a baby when not ready for the responsibility, adding more constraint- until overwhelmed. Is it government policy that weakens dedication and makes couples less likely to commit or is it by weakening constraints they make it easier for couples to escape? It is unlikely that governments can influence the breakdown of families through their laws, signals or money. But, the question remains, “can government help couples to stay together?”

Mr. Harry Benson

Author: Mr. Harry Benson

Research Director, The Marriage Foundation

Harry Benson has spent the last fifteen years researching, writing and teaching about marriage and family. He has taught relationship courses to thousands of couples and is the author and originator of Let’s Stick Together, a pioneering relationship book and programme for new parents. His research papers on marriage and family breakdown have made front-page news, and his findings are regularly cited by media and politicians. He has written a stream of research papers and articles for the Marriage Foundation, a charity launched in 2012 whose aim is to be a voice for marriage. As Research Director, Harry Benson appears regularly in local and national media. He and his wife, Kate, have six children.

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