It has recently been reported that the number of unmarried people in the UK has increased by 3.6 million over the last decade, this is an increase of one quarter and means that today, a third of the UK population is single.
The reasons for this shift in our behaviour are many and varied. Firstly, society has changed dramatically over the last twenty to thirty years and our attitudes have changed with it. It has become socially acceptable for couples to live together, unmarried, and raise a family. Therefore, many couples choose this way of life and take the view that their relationship need not be validated by an expensive ceremony, which they now consider outdated. Society’s acceptance of divorce has also grown over recent decades and this has seen a rapid increase in the number of divorcees, joining the “singles statistic”.
Further social change over the last thirty years has seen women enter the workplace in their droves and, as they are now able to earn an income and support themselves, there is no longer the need for a woman to find a husband in order to enjoy financial security. In turn, this has lead to many women prioritising career over family life and either marrying much later in life or choosing to remain single.
In addition to this, society has become far more accepting of same sex relationships over the last twenty years. This social acceptance has seen an increase in the number of same sex relationships but these couples have only had the right to legally formalise their relationship within the last five years or so. Therefore, many same sex couples have not yet taken this step and their status remains as single.
Apart from social change though, younger generations have experienced huge economic change which has influenced their decisions. At a time when their parents would have been considering marriage, many young people are burdened with debt and struggling to stump up large deposits to buy their first property. With the average cost of a wedding coming in at around £20,000 it is small wonder that many people are opting out as they feel that a wedding is unaffordable.
This is such a hot topic at the moment that it has captured the attention of our politicians, with David Cameron actively promoting the institution of marriage as the best way to provide a stable family life, whereas Labour have branded marriage a ‘lifestyle choice’ and taken the view that any stable relationship is positive.
Whatever the reason for the decline of marriage and whether this is a good or a bad thing for the society we live in is clearly up for debate. But whether you are married, cohabiting, in a civil partnership, or in any other form of relationship, the common factor is that we can all feel the same way when that relationship ends. There are often lots of unanswered questions, confusion and a feeling of uncertainty as to what to do next. If you have recently separated and feel that you could benefit from some guidance and advice, please contact Venisha Shah on 020 8899 6620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org