Top 13 Reasons Why People Don’t Want to Get Married Any More – and Why Staying Single Makes You Happier
by G. Rees
January 23, 2023
If you are about to have a baby, chances are you are more likely to be unmarried than married.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 2021 was the first year on record that more children were born out of wedlock than in it.
It follows a long-term trend of declining marriage rates and rising numbers of cohabiting couples seen in recent decades.
Explaining the decline, Dr Max Blumberg, a relationship psychologist and chartered member of the British Psychological Society, says that marriage no longer offers what it used to.
Dr Blumberg, of Hampshire, says: ‘Society used to require you to get married, even if the benefits of it were not great.
‘For women especially, there was no social mobility without getting married, so even a bad one had benefits.
‘But now it has switched around and the costs of getting married are often higher than the costs of remaining single.
‘A marriage can mean compromising so you have less money, less of a career and less freedom.
‘So for many there is less value in getting married than remaining single.’
Here he breaks down exactly why the traditional institution is on the way out.
1. Traditional reasons for marriage no longer matter
Traditionally, women needed the economic stability and social mobility of marriage. Even until the 1960s or later, men and women had set roles. But modern social structures make this increasingly less important and women’s lives are now much more flexible. They are working, pursuing careers, having babies and looking after the house – whether they are married or not. Men are also becoming more flexible in their roles but not at the same rate as women.
3. Growing acceptance of cohabiting
There has been a growing societal acceptance of cohabiting, with increasing demands for legal protection. Often people believe that living with someone prior to marriage might reduce the impact of a later divorce. In fact, cohabiting can bring more risks than marriage to couples breaking down. Yet still, it is increasingly popular, perhaps simply because it is easier and parents don’t frown on it anymore.
5. No evidence to show that marriage makes you happier and healthier (especially for women)
The benefits of marriage to men are quite clear. Studies have shown married men have better health and happiness. They also have fewer illnesses, better mental health and recover faster from sickness.
But it is not so clear cut for women.
In his 2020 book Happy Ever After: A Radical New Approach to Living Well, behavioural scientist Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics analysed global data.
He found that women who are single with no children often claim to be happier than those who are married.
They also live longer. He believes that by middle-age the effects of marriage might have begun to take mental and physical effects on some women.
Research shows that women who are single may have bigger social connections and do more social activities – which is a key marker of happiness.