• engaGE19

Why marriage matters this election

Whilst the culture around us seems ever more obsessed with sex and romance, it often feels as though it has a deep ambivalence towards marriage. Nowhere is this more evident than amongst our politicians who often display a reticence to speak about marriage and engage with the reality of family breakdown.

As CARE’s Family Policy Officer, I am convinced that strong marriages are good for all of society and that marriage must be a general election issue.

There aren’t any MPs making any serious arguments that society can do without marriage, but the fact that there are very few making the argument for marriage speaks volumes about how important they think it’s role is in our society.

Marriage brings with it benefits which go far beyond the fulfilment of romantic love. Marriage is good for adults, children and communities. This is because marriage brings a stability to both relationships and family life which cannot be matched by couples who cohabit.

The decision to marry signals a distinctive commitment that requires long-term emotional, economic and social investment, and sacrifice. This level of commitment generates stability, security, trust and longevity within relationships.

And yet the divide in those choosing to marry is stark. The Marriage Foundation has shown that amongst the lowest earners just 25% of parents with young children are married, whereas amongst the highest earners 87% of parents with young children are married. A lack of commitment among the lowest earners ‘leads inevitably to high rates of breakdown and a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty and family breakdown.’

Marriage is a social justice issue in 2019.

Our politicians fall into the category of those who benefit from the stability of marriage, whilst expressing a deep ambivalence about its importance for society. This attitude must be challenged.

Whoever forms Government on 13 December will have an opportunity to strengthen our nation by backing marriage.

If you, like me, are convinced that strong marriages are good for all of society then I encourage you to make marriage an issue this general election. Engage with your candidates on whether they see the importance of this issue, how they would encourage more people to get married, and support those who are in struggling marriages.

CARE’s briefings on marriage and family and tax are a good place to start for more information on what’s been happening in Parliament, where the parties stand and what questions you can ask your candidates.

Jonathan Williams

CARE’s Family Policy Officer