Of all the milestones in life, couple formation is among the most momentous. Its repercussions, whether positive or negative, can be enormous. It is typically the key pre-requisite for parenthood, and can also result in step-parenthood. The relationship may also break down - a situation that is likely to engender considerable turmoil, stemming not only from the breakdown process itself, but also from the stressful negotiations, pathways and reactions of others that this process typically generates.
This paper discusses the extent to which the decline in marriage rates over the past few decades reflects changing attitudes to marriage and cohabitation.