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  • Charlotte Lee-Butler

New Zealand's Moral Decline? Thank Goodness!

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

New Zealand has undergone great culture change when we look at the erstwhile traditions of no sex before marriage, hetero-only weddings and when having children before marriage was tut-tut-tutted upon (if not called for disownment). Oh my, how things have (really and truly) changed.

Gone are the days where virginity was an expectation on your wedding night in this country. And that's a good thing too when one considers a study in 2012 found almost 50% of New Zealand high-school students aged 17 or older had had sexual intercourse. Let's compare this to the median age of marriage in New Zealand - in 2017 it was 32.2 years old for men and 30.5 years old for women. There'd be pretty slim pickings for either gender if virginity was a pre-requisite for marriage now!

I love that as a country we are so progressive on this issue, that (barely) anyone bats an eyelid on either front and it's become soooo common for couples to move in together in domestic bliss before they look to tie the knot (if they ever do). Of course, de facto partners now have the same status as people who are married in most areas, so we don't even have to be wed to be seen as married in the eyes of the law. And since 2013, it also doesn't matter if that couple is of the same sex - any couple can live together or get married. Love is love peeps and the New Zealand law reflects our societal changes around this. Hurrah!

As for marriage before children, well we've seen a massive cultural turn around here too. Couples getting married have often been together for quite some time and are raising children together (not to mention often with the yoke of a mortgage...). The significance of having a wedding for these people has changed. Even though a wedding may have been something they always wanted to do, the priority of having that wedding so often slips down, down, down Life's 'To Do' List. Thankfully, New Zealand society is now pretty damn AOK with this state of affairs.

Can anyone relate? I hate to pull myself into the spotlight (tah-da!), but that was me. My (now) husband and I moved back to New Zealand from Ireland (where the Kiwi wayward state of declining marriage rates has started to hit too - certainly more challenging for some in a Catholic society). We got the mortgage and found out we were preggers a week after we moved in. We had another baby and only THEN after many years of being together, all the while feeling total commitment to the relationship, only THEN did we tie the knot.

So I'm all for a moral decline when it allows people to live freely the way they want without judgment, where we can truly try a relationship on for size. Two people who may be in love can then see if they actually can live with each other. If only we could have tried this out with my kids before they came along too!

Look out for a post on how is it best to manage your children or step-children on your wedding day (or any other celebration!) and keep yourself relaxed and able to enjoy your day too. Coming soon!

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