Letter: The nuclear family just cannot cope

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The Independent Online
Sir: The social evidence about marriage can be read in a different way than you suggest ("Marriage - an institution to celebrate", 29 October).

If people (especially men) who have better job security and greater resources are more likely to marry than others, being married may largely be a reflection of social and personal stability rather than a cause of it. This reading is supported by the well-established higher vulnerability of the marriages of people in adverse social circumstances.

That marriage is an institution which symbolises such security is not to belittle it. However, it is important not to confuse the outward form of an institution with the social dynamics which sustain it, otherwise we could ignore the main reasons why some people live unsatisfactory lives.

JOHN EEKELAAR

Reader in Family Law

Pembroke College, Oxford

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