Marriage Week launches with positive message: family breakdown doesn’t have to be the norm
All around the country churches and community groups are encouraging married couples to use Marriage Week, 7-14 February, to focus on actively nurturing their relationships.
Hundreds of local organisers will put on events to encourage healthy marriages in their area. In past years, events have taken the form of Valentine’s suppers, the renewal of marriage vows in local churches, and pub quizzes.
Founder and director of Marriage Week, Richard Kane says that: “Too many couples just drift apart and marriages, which could be fantastic, tragically come to an end. It doesn’t have to be this way.
“Marriage Week is about saying let’s wake up and be intentional about our marriages, just as we were intentional about making the decision to marry in the first place.”
The organisations behind Marriage Week UK, are reporting that the rise of the unmarried family1 correlates with the increase in family breakdown and will highlight the need for stable families throughout the week-long series of events.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Nola Leach, chief executive officer of CARE, says: “More than two thirds of Britain’s families are headed by a married couple and statistics2 show that these 12 million couples are more likely to stay together because of, not in spite of, being married.
“At the basis of marriage should be a decision to commit to each other and to the marriage – it is so much more than two signatures on a legal document.”
On 9 February Professor Scott Stanley, one of the world’s leading experts on relationships between couples, will speak at the sixth National Relationships Education Conference as part of Marriage Week. He has studied the way relationships form and develop for more than 25 years and will highlight how commitment can make a difference when couples - especially men – make a decision that a relationship is for life.
Professor Stanley says: “People often slide into cohabiting rather than making a firm decision about what exactly they are doing. But if couples think about what they are doing and where they are going together, their decision making can build a stronger, more lasting commitment.”
To launch Marriage Week 2012, Sir Paul Coleridge, Rabbi Mirvis and Professor Scott Stanley will speak at an event in the Houses of Parliament on 6 February.
Founded in 1997, Marriage Week UK is part of Marriage Week International. There are currently expressions of Marriage Week in 15 countries.
1. The number of opposite sex cohabiting couple families increased significantly, from 2.1 million in 2001 to 2.9 million in 2011. The number of dependent children living in opposite sex cohabiting couple families increased significantly, from 1.3 million to 1.8 million over the same period.
Source: Office for National Statistic. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/family-demography/families-and-households/2011/stb-families-households.html
2. One in three cohabiting couples separate before their child’s fifth birthday - four times the rate of married parents.
Source: Married and Unmarried Family Breakdown by the Bristol Community Family Trust