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by Alana Bergstrom

Wedding bells and long walks down the aisle could be a thing of the past, says a new report released by the Vanier Institute on Family. For the first time there are more single Canadian adults than married Canadians.

The report, released at the beginning of October, used information from the 2006 census. It found that only 47.9 percent of adults were married, and that common law families were the fastest growing family type.

 “It just doesn’t seem to be an issue today. Everyone knows we’re not married, and nobody thinks twice about the fact that we have kids together” said Jesse Woods, a Regina mother of two.

Woods has been living common law with her partner for eight years.  “We don’t plan on marrying now maybe never, we don’t feel the need to”, she said.

Alison Hayford, a sociology professor at the University of Regina whose focus is families, said though the Vanier Institute study is interesting, she does not believe marriage is on its way out.


It actually takes a long time to see if a trend exists, it doesn’t occur over five years it occurs over time” she said. “The proportion of people living common law has gone up, but majority of people still marry ultimately sometimes after they have a couple kids.”


Hayford said the rising proportion of common law relationships is likely due to the fact that many people are marrying later in life, and many marry after living many years together.


Melissa and Chad Smith are an example of one such couple.

“We lived together originally out of necessity because of university. Then with the high cost of living, student loans, and car payments, we still didn’t have enough money to even contemplate a wedding”, Melissa said.

The two lived together for seven years before marrying in 2006.

Hayford said this isn’t unusual, but why is still unknown.

The answers aren’t particularly clear why people living together for 10 years suddenly decide to get married. Sometimes there are external reasons, some people just really like the wedding,” she said.

But according to the Vanier Institute study the number of married-with-children families is on the decrease, dropping to 39 per cent since 1981, and the number of couples with children opting out of marriage today has tripled according to the 2006 data.

Hayford still believes more time is needed to study the common law trend. “I predict people will still get married as long as there is good reason to get married, which I think there still is,” she said. 

(Photo: Melissa and Chad Smith at their wedding in 2006)

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