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The best context for the formation of stable communities is one of stable relationships within society. This places support for marriage and family life at the heart of building a healthy society. Statistics show that 48% of all children born today will see the breakdown of their parents’ relationship [1]. The breakdown of the couple relationship has a direct impact on the life course and well-being of their children, directly correlating the value of stable couple relationship to a stable childhood [2]. Knowing that healthy marriages bring the best outcomes, not only for couples but for children, makes relationship support for families in Wales a priority.


Priority A - Early intervention and support

Preventative parenting and relationship support is more cost effective in the long term than the cost of crisis intervention [1] and [3]. Introducing support at an early stage provides couples and parents with the skills needed at key life stages, equipping them to deal with problems when they arise.

Priority B - Culture change

Relationship breakdown is estimated to cost the UK Government £44bn per year [4], so a strategy to prevent breakdown and equip families to build strong and healthy relationships will be of obvious benefit to the Welsh economy. It is important that there is a focus on promoting the benefits of family relationship support at all stages of family life - in good times as well as bad - to change cultural perception that relationship support is only useful or needed in times of crisis.

Priority C - Eradicate child poverty

Policy should aim to strengthen family life and support families across the spectrum of need. It has been shown that children’s outcomes in the areas of health, education and finance are closely linked to the stability of the family unit [1] & [3]. Since poverty is often the cause and effect of family breakdown [1], it essential to address this issue in the overall strategy.

Priority D - Community-based delivery model

Research shows that the most appropriate means of delivering support for families is by equipping people to do this at a local level [3]. Measures such as preventative relationship education that is accessible through community gateways mean that more people benefit and de-stigmatises the concept. Churches and other faith settings, the workplace, register offices, community centres, GP practices, health centres, schools etc. are venues where support is seen to be easily obtainable.

Priority E - Workplace initiatives

Policy-makers and practitioners should be encouraged to develop incentives with employers to promote a beneficial work-life balance. Workplace initiatives can include appropriate childcare provision and encourage employees to have quality relationships at home. This will reduce the effect of consequent absenteeism in employment due to family difficulties.

Christian Context

Christians believe that marriage was instituted by God at creation to be the foundation for an environment where generation after generation children can be born, loved, nurtured and brought to healthy emotional and physical maturity (Genesis 2:24). The formation of a healthy society will therefore be about the importance it places on the strength and durability of relationships, marriage and family life.

[1] ‘Forgotten Families’, Centre for Social Justice 2012.
[2] Cowan and Cowan 2011.
[3] ‘Stable Relationships for a Stable Society’, Relate 2012.
[4] ‘Counting the Cost of Family Failure’, 2012 Update, The Relationship Foundation.

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