Marriage rates have nearly halved over the past 40 years
Marriage is in danger of becoming an exclusively middle class institution, the Conservatives have warned.
Tory frontbencher David Willetts said government policy should aim to tackle social breakdown by restoring marriage as a "more widespread institution". BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments. You can read a selection below.
For me marriage shows a commitment to being with one person and then a commitment to the family unit when children come along. I think it should be encouraged and preserved to keep family life stable.
Jemma Irvine, Long Sutton, UK
Narrow minded, out of touch, not actually addressing the problems they have highlighted. Anything anyone else wants to add? People of Britain please please join me saying no to nonsense, saying no to the Conservatives.
Jade Cooper, Stockport, UK
It's great! Well done the Tories for supporting marriage.
Sidney Cordle, Sheffield, UK
I feel marriage is no longer the standard goal for a relationship. Aside from the ever increasing divorce rates, and couples waiting longer before tying the knot, the expense of a marriage ceremony is enough to put many people off. I'm 30 now, and if I want to get married I could start saving now and manage to pay for it sometime in 2015. However I do not believe that the government should offer any incentives for married couples. The government has no right to attempt to influence the social structure of a relationship or family unit, and any such scheme would be paid for by those unmarried, or single people. Penalising those who choose not to marry or raise a family is no way to treat the UK population.
Dennis McBryde, Bradford, UK
Totally agree with this. I'm currently living with my partner and our three children. We would love to get married but with spiralling taxes, higher cost of living and little prospects of salary increments at work we have no realistic chance of saving money for even a small wedding.
Adrian Worsdall, Manchester, UK
How outrageous! My parents were never married and are still together after more than 30 years. This will just result in marriages purely for the sake of being better off through taxes. Why should people who aren't religious or don't feel the need for marriage within their relationship be forced in to getting married? Surely setting up a home together and having children is a bigger commitment than a piece of paper and a ring?
Hanna, North Wales, UK
At last, some common sense. Bring back married couple tax allowances so a parent can stay at home with the kid rather than work every hour to pay for their child to be brought up by a stranger.
Richard Harris, Nottinghamshire, UK
It appears on the surface that the Tories are trying to rectify a problem which they started 25 years ago and Labour continued. That is, endorsing single parenting. It has been found to be the case in all surveys that children bought up in a stable environment with two parents are better behaved, educated and therefore better equipped for the stresses of modern life, than those bought up by a single parent. And yes, it's right to offer a tax incentive. If we want the home-maker ( mum ) to stay at home and raise respectful children, then she should be allowed to offset her tax allowance against her husbands income. This way, it becomes a win win situation all round. Parents keep more of their income and the government loses another number from the unemployed list.
I think David Willetts is wrong. Marriage may be decreasing but I do not think this is because of social rank. I, myself, am working class and do not have an erratic or low income. I have an average income and plan to get married in the future. With many young couples having divorced parents they may not want to go through the same thing. Having parents in a happy, loving relationship is beneficial to a child whether they are married or not.
Judith Graham, Falkirk, UK
Clearly another policy dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton. I find this extremely patronising. To me, this just shows how the Conservative party and its public school elite are completely out of touch with everyday life for the majority of the British population, and I can't see how they can govern and create policies that will make life better for us.
Sarah K, London, UK
Finally - some joined-up thinking. A stable marriage is good for everyone, parents, children and society and everything should be done to help marriages rather than undermine them. However it was the Tories who destroyed the married couples tax allowance.
Landshark, Bude, UK
I wholeheartedly agree.The marriage covenant is a sacred one that deserves to be upheld and fortified. Commitment needs to be encouraged. So this is a positive step by the Tories.
Sarah Pearce, Bristol, UK
I don't believe that marriage changes a relationship. If you have a stable, loving relationship you can choose to get married. If you think getting married will create stability where there is none, you are doomed to failure. As for marriage becoming too expensive for people on low incomes, I am getting married next May in a registry office for around £150. It is a tiny percentage of the population who can't afford that.
James Rose, London, UK
I was brought up by both my mum and dad (who were unmarried) they separated when I was around 14. I thought that was too late to be honest. Why should parents stay together for the sake of children, when the child will clearly know this is the case? And if they were married it would have made the break up even worse!
Cliff, Bournemouth, UK