Marriage should be incentivised above other relationships, according to a UK social justice organisation.
The Centre for Social Justice is calling for increased supports for young married couples after a report found children from non-married households have worse outcomes.
The ‘Family Structure Still Matters’ report found that children from non-married households are more likely to experience separation and “suffer worse health, are more likely to be excluded, more likely to join a gang and end up as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Broadcaster Wendy Grace said the Government must do more to encourage people to tie the knot.
“If I told you that there was something in society that would help adults be healthier, happier and wealthier and would help children do better in school, have better outcomes in other areas like mental health, have lower chances of ending up in prison, all these things, you would say OK sit down and tell me what you are talking about,” she said.
“There is just a whole host of research that backs up that marriage is good for social capital basically – it is good for society, good for adults, good for children.”
She warned however, that most married couples will tell you that it is “bloody hard work.”
“Life is hard; it is stressful and it is getting busier and there is a lot of pressure on young couples in particular,” she said.
“I don’t think there are enough supports out there for couples, especially when they are starting off and that is a really stressful time – you are trying to buy a house, you are trying to save and when a baby comes along, your whole world is thrown upside down.
“I don’t think there is enough of society actually saying, ‘you know what this part of our society is really important and how can we support it and protect it?’”
Ms Grace pointed to the system in Hungary which offers three-years of parental leave to married couples, as well as an interest-free loan of €30,000.
She also warned that society should be more open to training young couples for married life before the big day rolls around.
“I just don’t think there is enough of a focus on supporting marriages to grow and to thrive and survive,” she said.
“Think about it like this. How much time do you put into cooking your food or exercising, looking after your body or taking your car for a service?
“Do you put even a fraction of the time you put into those things into your marriage? As in spending time together?”
She said the one piece of advice she would give every newly married couple is to make sure you “have a date night once a week without fail.”
“It is something that has to be in your calendar without your children,” she said. “Where you are not talking about your children, you are just spending time with each other.
“Even during lockdown, we got the takeaway in, lit the candles, put on the music and invested the time into each other and I just don’t think we talk about it enough.
“Ultimately when marriages are strong and families are strong, so too goes society. There is a kind of social capital that is built up.”
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