By Kirsty Topping
LANDMARK wedding anniversaries could die out as more people choose to marry later.
Couples are choosing to tie the knot ten years later than they did 30 years ago, according to the General Register Office of Scotland, leading to fears that golden and diamond wedding anniversaries could become a thing of the past.
Statistics show that Scottish men get married at the average age of 36.9, compared to just 26.8 in 1980.
Women wed at the tender age of 24.7 30 years ago, compared to 34.4 today.
Robert Wright, an Economics professor at Strathclyde University, said: “Fewer people are getting married and there’s a growing trend of couples choosing to marry later in life, and more opting to cohabit instead.
“Couples and delaying marriage for a number of reasons, from the expense of a wedding to the fact it’s now socially acceptable to be living together and not married.”
Professor Wright said that despite the fact people were living longer the trend for marrying later in life could see the eradication of marital milestones.
“If nothing else was happening, then increased life expectancy would lead to an increase in anniversaries because the probability of both the husband and the wife living to the older ages that typify these events would increase.
“For example, if you marry at 20, both the husband and wife need to live to 70 to have a golden wedding anniversary.
“However the age of marriage is increasing. If you are 40 when you marry then to celebrate a golden wedding the husband and wife must live to 90. If life expectancy is 75 years you can see that that not many are going to live long enough to ‘make it’.”
“Also divorce rates are increasing. When you factor this in, even if you marry young and live a long time, the probability of divorce decreases the probability of reaching the marriage duration required to qualify for a milestone wedding anniversary.
“And thirdly, decreasing marriage rates mean fewer people are entering the ‘risk set’ to begin with. Lets face it you can’t have a wedding anniversary unless you get married in the first place.
“You need to buy a ticket to win – and fewer and fewer are buying tickets.”
Professor Wright theorises that in the future couple could instead mark the milestones in their relationship.
Paul Burnside, of Scottish Marriage Care, said: “Adolescence used to end at 21 but now it ends at 35. People want to prolong their carefree lives, and are leaving it later to make a commitment.
“and it’s about caution. There is such a high divorce rate that people want to be sure before they make the jump to married life.”
He also disagreed that milestone anniveraries will die ot – saying they will just become fewer.
“We’ll still have golden and diamond weddings. In the past couples might have celebrated marriages milestones in their 70s and 80s, in future it will be in their 80s and 90s.”