Couples who choose to get married before they have children are reportedly 70 per cent more likely to stay together, a new study has claimed.
The study found that couples who never married but had a family together were three times more likely to separate by the time their children were teenagers than those who tied the knot.
The research also found that factors such as age of parents, and the level of education had very little effect on the longevity of their relationship.
Marriage Foundation, a UK organisation, interviewed 1800 mothers with at least one child aged between 14 and 15 about how their relationship was formed.
The subjects were divided into three groups: mothers who married before having children, mothers who married after becoming parents and mothers who never married.
Of the mothers who married before having children 76 per cent were still with their husband. 41 per cent of the mothers who married after having children were still with their partner and that fell to 31 per cent for mothers who never married.
Interestingly, the study found that mothers who married before having children were on average four years older than those who had children before marriage.
According Harry Benson, research director of the foundation and author of the report, these factors have limited impact on the longevity of a relationship.
“This is really exciting new research which shows that education and age do not dictate the success of relationships as was previously thought,” said Mr Benson.
“It barely seems to matter if women are younger or older, degree educated or not; so long as they make a plan for their future and marry before starting a family, they have a really good chance of making that relationship last.
“It stands to reason that there’s one system that works best. It’s one that worked for years.
“While it is right that we have done away with the social shame of having children outside marriage, we should not lose confidence in the value of crystallising commitment before starting a family.
“The message of this research is clear. For any couple thinking of having children, their best chance of staying together in the long run is by getting married first,” he said.