Do Britons still want to get married?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
June 28, 2022, 8:45 AM GMT+0

Among those who don’t think they will get hitched, men are the most likely to think marriage is outdated

Family lawyers in England and Wales are expecting an influx of divorce filings in the coming months, as the biggest change to marriage law for half a century comes into effect. Under the reformed law, couples wishing to divorce will no longer need to separate for two years or assign blame to end their marriage.

But are Britons still interested in marriage? A new YouGov survey among unwed Britons shows that they tend to want to get married (40%), compared to 28% who say they will not, and a further 29% who are unsure.

There is also little difference between the genders. Among unwed men, 38% want to marry versus 27% who do not, compared to 42% of unwed women who want to tie the knot and 29% who do not.

Are young people more anti-marriage however? The research shows that overall, while only 16% of people aged 18 to 34 are married, 49% of this age group overall want to get married, for a total of 65% who are either married or want to be. Only one in ten of this age group overall say they do not want to marry.

This means there is little difference to those aged 55 and over, for example, 61% of whom are either married (59%) or want to be (2%), and 11% who do not want to marry. It is those aged 45 to 54 who are most opposed to marriage, however, this is still a minority. Some 47% of this age group is married, and a further 8% want to for a total of 55%, versus the 17% who do not want to.

Why don’t people want to get married?

Despite most still wanting to get married, it is not for everyone, but what is putting them off?

Approaching half (48%) of unwed Britons who do not want to get married say they don’t see the point in doing so, while 34% say they don’t think marriage is right for them. Another third (34%) think that the idea of marriage is outdated, and no longer relevant.

Around one in five (23%) do not think they will meet the right person to marry – rising to 34% among unwed singletons who do not want to marry in the future.

The religious elements underpinning marriage is also putting off 20%.

Another 14% are put off the idea of marriage by the prospect of a messy divorce. While men and women tend to feel similarly about why they might not want to marry, in this case, men are slightly more likely to say the risk of divorce is off-putting (18%) than women (11%).

Younger Britons who do not wish to marry are more likely to cite a variety of reasons compared to older unwed people. While the top reason across all age groups is not seeing the point in marriage, the most significant difference between them is the idea that marriage is outdated. Over half (56%) of those aged 18 to 34 who do not wish to get married say that is at least partly behind why. In comparison, only 15% of those aged 55 and over who are unwilling to wed say the same.

This younger age group is also more likely to say they are put off by the religious aspect of marriage (36%) compared to those 55 and over (9%). They are also more likely to say they have heard bad things about marriage from others (18%) than those 55 and over (4%).  

See full results here

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