Love and marriage? Not in Kelowna

Common law marriage is becoming a more common choice for a lot of Kelowna residents

A growing number of Kelowna residents are falling out of love with marriage.

The latest census information from Statistics Canada indicates that the number of couples living in common-law relationships increased in the Central Okanagan by 23 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

While this increase reflects a nationwide trend toward common-law relationships, the rise in the Kelowna CMA outpaced the province, which saw a jump of 16 per cent.

Ivan Trofimoff, a Kelowna-based registered psychologist who has worked in three different countries over the last 23 years, has seem a similar trend play out in his sessions.

“My personal opinion on what is happening is that people decide to move in together then they don’t want the expense of a big marriage — that’s one of the most obvious things,” he said.

The cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years and, said Trofimoff, the years people traditionally used for marriage are now a bit of a struggle. That’s meant that couples are moving in together for the comfort of merging two incomes into one household.

As they become more established, they’re having fewer children and to do so later in their lives.

“For a lot of people it’s not that they don’t believe in marriage. It’s that they’ve already started living together and they realize they’ve been together five, 10 years, so why get married? ‘We have a house, we live together, people already know us as a couple — why bother?” he said.

“People aren’t anti marriage, modern society doesn’t lend itself to getting married as much as used it.”

Religion, he added, is also less of a motivating factor than it once was.

The Census shows number of people who are married did increase by seven per cent, and the number of people not married and not living in a common law relationship is also up by eight per cent.

The number of couples without children in the Kelowna CMA increased by 11 per cent, slightly more than the overall increase in all types of families eight per cent and the province wide increase in couples without children nine per cent.

The only family grouping that showed a decrease from 2011 to 2016 is lone-parent families with three or more children, which fell by one per cent. Lone-parent families with two children and couples with three or more children rose by just one per cent and two per cent, respectively.