Sweden and Marriage

Finding love in one of the happiest countries in the world. Spoiler: Apparently it is harder than it looks. Especially for expats.

The desire for independence extends all the way to marriage (äktenskap or giftermål) for Swedes. Many here forgo marriage altogether, or only get married after 10 years together and after already having children. It is also quite common to be in a deeply committed, long-term relationship and never live together. This break from the traditional order of things (love > marriage > babies … Although for most of humanity love was not as much a factor as was preserving bloodlines, forging alliances, and economic reasons. But I digress) likely is related to Sweden being a more liberal society. Here, love is love. Available to all genders, races, and ages (well, above 18 years old).

Marriage is also less of an institution in Sweden. Even married couples file their taxes separately and you do not need to be married here to have some legal rights to your partner’s possessions. The sambo (live-in partner) status is very similar to the legally recognized domestic partner status in the U.S., but much easier to prove/possess. Learn more about the Cohabitation Act here.

However it is not all roses in love in Sweden. Divorce is on the rise here too. But before we get to that, let’s talk about babies. The topic of parental leave in Sweden is up next, so stay tuned!

Fun Facts:

  • In recent years marriage rates have hovered at around five marriages per 1,000 residents, according to Statistics Sweden. That is a decrease from ten years previously, when there were 6.1 marriages per 1,000 residents.
  • The average age for a first marriage is 33 for women and 35.7 for men, according to Eurostat. (It is around 27 for women and 29 for men in the US by comparison, according to census records.)
  • marriage in Sweden lasted on average 11.3 years in 2018, until it was ended by divorce. For marriages that lasted until death, the average length was 47.1 years.
  • Sambo is short for samboende and means “living together”.
  • Gift (“married”) also means “poison”…Coincidence? I think not.

Tess’ Tips:

  • Enjoy your time as newlyweds (nygifta) knowing that you have done what less and less Swedes will ever do!
  • What do you call your loved ones?
  • If you are not living together but are in a long-term relationship: Särbo.
  • If you are living together: Sambo.
  • If you are married: spouse – Make (masculine) or maka (feminine)

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!

4 thoughts on “Sweden and Marriage

  1. Marriage and poison are the same word?! Yikes!!!! That’s a pretty dim view on the institution. If American marriage research proves out, a woman should have coined that term. Statistically, married men (true at least in America) are the happiest group. Married women, less so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is tough to be a woman in many ways! Probably because we have, historically (and in many countries still are), been treated like property instead of persons! But thanks for reading and commenting! And for giving me a good example of marriage!


  2. Pingback: Sweden and Babies | Sweden and Me

  3. Pingback: Sweden and Divorce | Sweden and Me

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