Couples who choose to walk down the aisle before starting a family are 70pc more likely to stay together than those who do not research has revealed.
The study found that couples who never married but had a family were three times more likely to split up before their children were teenagers that those who tied the knot.
Interestingly the research found that factors such as the age a couple became parents and the level of education they received had a marginal effect on the longevity of their relationship.
Marriage Foundation, a UK organisation, interviewed more than 1800 mothers with at least one child aged 14 or 15 about how their family was formed.
The subjects were divided into three groups; mothers who married before having children, mothers who married after becoming parents and those who never walked down the aisle.
Of the mothers who married before having children, 76pc were found to still be with their partners. The study found that 41pc of mothers who married after having children were still with their partners, while 31pc of mothers who never married their children’s father were still with him.
The study also found that mothers who married before having children were four years older on average than those who did not marry before starting a family.
They were also more likely to have a degree.
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.
Dan Oakes hesitates when people ask him what he does for a living. As the first male midwife to graduate from Dundalk Institute of Technology (and one of around 30 in Ireland) his answer tends to provoke a strong reaction.