Monday 23 April 2018

Marriage is still in fashion among our loved-up couples

Marriage is still in fashion in Ireland
Marriage is still in fashion in Ireland
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

He's 34 and she's 32, they met at work and they plan to have two children who they'll call Jack and Emily.

They are the typical Irish couple embarking on married life together in 2015.

They will probably tie the knot over the August bank holiday weekend, and most likely in a Catholic church - although they are tempted to join the growing trend for a civil ceremony.

While every couple writes their own love story, official records do paint a telling picture of our attitudes to love and marriage - tracking what has changed and what's stayed the same over the decades.

Central Statistics Office data show marriage is far from out of fashion in Ireland - based on recent trends over 20,000 couples will get hitched this year, and a few hundred more will enter civil partnerships.

That's good news for hotels and florists as it's 25pc more than in 1994 - though the actual marriage rate is virtually unchanged at 4.5 per 1,000 people.

One in five of all these loved-up couples will have met at work which remains the number one setting for romance, ahead of pubs, clubs and introductions by mutual friends.

That's according to a report by the Oxford Internet Institute which tracked 14,000 couples in 17 countries including Ireland.

That study pinpointed a growing trend towards online introductions as well - one in six couples questioned in Ireland had met over the internet, but given that was in 2011, it's likely to be even more now.

One unmistakable Irish trend is our tendency to wait for marriage until we're absolutely sure we're ready. Men are waiting almost nine years longer than they did in the 1970s to commit - they are waiting until the age of 34.9 and rising.

Wicklow men are even more cautious, typically waiting until the ripe old age of 36 to wed.

Meanwhile, teenage brides are a very rare exception these days with most women keeping their options open until they're 32.8 years old - whereas back in 1977 , they'd have been just 24.

Some 93pc of brides and 92pc of grooms are getting married for the first and hopefully only time, the statistics show.

And only one in four of us marries someone from the same socioeconomic group, though male professionals are twice as choosy in this regard.

Friday and Saturday are the most popular days to get hitched and one in seven of us weds in August, with the nuptial frenzy peaking over the bank holiday weekend.

And though we're only mid-table in Europe in our fondness for getting married, our caution does appear to pay off with a very low divorce rate that's second only to Malta.

Although the courts granted almost 3,000 divorces in 2013, the Irish divorce rate of 0.7 per 1,000 people is just a third of what's the norm in Britain and well below the EU average of 1.9.

And an Accord poll out this week found that 61pc of people here still consider marriage a lifelong commitment, although only a third now feel that couples who have children "ought to be married".

Irish women have an average of 1.99 children, which remains very high by European standards.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News