Fewer Singaporeans got hitched and more were divorced last year, according to latest government statistics on marriages and divorces.
Adding to the worrying trend, more were also getting married later and divorcing earlier.
And more than half of the non-Muslim divorces in 2006 had marriages lasting less than 10 years.
But the consolation is that more divorcees remarried, showing that they still believe in the institution.
These snapshots are gleaned from the statistics on marriages and divorces for 2006 released today by the Singapore Department of Statistics.
Tracking the marriage trends from 1996 to 2006, the figures show that marriages fell across all age groups during the decade, with the largest fall in the 25-29 male age group and the 20-24 female age group.
Remarriage, notes the department, "has become increasingly common," with 17 per cent of the grooms and 15 per cent of the brides remarrying in 2006. For Muslim men, the number who remarried rose from 19 per cent in 1996 to 26 per cent last year, while that for non-Muslim men increased from 9 per cent to 15 per cent.
The median age of grooms and brides also went up over the last decade by 1-2 years. In 2006, those remarrying were on average 8 to 13 years older than those who married for the first time.
The delay in getting married is across all educational groups except for Muslim men with post secondary or higher qualification and Muslim women with secondary and post-secondary education.
Those with lower education seemed to get married later. The numbers show that in 2006, grooms with primary or no education were the oldest. The median ages for these grooms were 40 years for non-Muslims and 33 years for Muslims at their first marriage.
This is the same trend for the women. Among non-Muslim brides, those with primary or no education were the oldest, with median age at 29 years. In contrast, among the Muslim brides, university graduates were the oldest, with the median age at first marriage of 27 years.
Most men married younger women. In 2006, such marriages accounted for 72 per cent of first marriages, lower than the 75 per cent 10 years ago.
Couples with large age difference also increased over the decade. Those who were 10 years or more apart widened from 7.2 per cent in 1996 to 9.6 per cent in 2006.
The majority of the marriages were contracted by Chinese couples (82 per cent), while Malay couples made up 63 per cent. There were more inter-ethnic group marriages than before, especially among the Muslims - this went up from 7.1 per cent in 1996 to 12 per cent in 2006 for non-Muslim marriages and from 21 per cent to 30 per cent for Muslim marriages.
Singaporean men also married brides with better qualifications over the decade. For example, the proportion of non-Muslim grooms with primary or no education marrying better-educated partners rose from 44 per cent in 1996 to 72 per cent in 2006. More than half of the Muslim graduate grooms married their educational equals in 2006.
Among the non-Muslim graduate brides, the proportion marrying graduate grooms fell slightly from 77 per cent to 74 per cent, while the number of Muslims graduate brides marrying their educational equals also dropped by 3 per cent - from 49 per cent to 46 per cent.
Divorces going up, especially among young couples
Divorces went up from 2,608 to 7,061 in 2006. The number in 2006 was higher than the 6,909 divorces in 2005.
Younger married couples aged 20-24 registered the highest divorce rate in 2006, which also showed the largest increase over the past decade.
Among male divorcees in 2006, those aged 35-44 years formed the biggest group. For female divorcees, the largest group was aged 25-34 years. Divorces among those aged 45 years and above also went up markedly.
The median ages for male and female divorcees increased to 40 years and 36 years respectively in 2006, up from 38 years for males and 35 for females a decade ago.
The median marriage duration for divorces fell from 10 years in 1996 to 9.5 years in 2006. This was primarily due to the decline in the length of marriage among the non-Muslim divorces. Divorcing Muslims stayed in a marriage shorter than non-Muslims. It was 7.8 years for Muslims and 10 years for non-Muslims in 2006.
What is startling is that half of the non-Muslim divorces in 2006 had marriages lasting less than 10 years. A large proportion (36 per cent) of the non-Muslim divorces was among couples were married for 5 to 9 years. In contrast, the largest proportion (34 per cent) of Muslim divorces was among couples who were married for less than 5 years.
The most common reason cited for non-Muslim divorces was having lived apart or separated from three years or more. There was an increase from 37 per cent in 1996 to 49 per cent in 2006. Unreasonable behaviour was the next most common reason.
The wife initiated the majority (69 per cent) of non-Muslim divorces in 2006.
Among Muslims, personality difference was the main reason cited for 22 per cent of the divorces in 2006, followed by infidelity (17 per cent).