August 2006: Cohabitation Not Working / Marriage Benefits Children

Infants Benefit From a Marital Environment Cohabitation Ends in Separation Much of the Time MARRIAGE : INFANTS BENEFIT FROM A MARRIED FAMILY. In a recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, infants’ home environments and relationship with their mothers were found to be healthier when the mothers were married rather than cohabiting or single. Aspects of the mother-child relationship were explored at six and fifteen months of age: the behavior of each toward the other, the home environment, and the nature of the infant’s attachment. With one exception, scores were consistently higher for the married moms. Significantly, the number of adults in the home was less important that the marital status. [“Do Infants Benefit from a Married Family?,” familyfacts.org, http://www.familyfacts.org/featuredfinding.cfm; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update, 26Jul06]       COHABITATION ENDS IN SEPARATION HALF OF THE TIME. A study published in the journal Demography finds that almost 1 of 2, or 46 of 100 cohabitating relationships last no longer than 5 years. Thus, 46% of those who live together end in separation, while 44% of such relationships end up in marriage. Table 2 in the journal shows that 24% break up in one year, 34% by two years, 40% by three, 44% by four, and 46% by five. Meanwhile, 24% get married after a year of living together, 34% within two, 39% by three, 42% by four, and 44% by five years of cohabiting. According to the study’s lead researcher, Daniel Lichter of Cornell University, “The common view of cohabitation as a steppingstone to marriage needs to be seriously questioned…Instead, serial cohabitation may be an emerging norm as cohabiting unions form and break...

Myths and Reality of Living Together Without Marriage (2/06)

Cohabitation has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1980. In the United States, living together instead of marrying has become the norm for couples – half of young adults aged 20-40 are cohabiting instead of getting married. Cohabitation has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1980, and the marriage rate has dropped more than 40 percent since 1960. Some see substituting living together for marriage as an insignificant shift in family "structure." Those who are better informed realize that the shift has disastrous ramifications for the individuals involved, as well as for society and public policy. The faulty reasoning leading young adults to make such a poor choice must be exposed. Here are 4 Myths surrounding the shift: Myth #1: Living together is good way to "test the water." Many couples say that they want to live together to see if they are compatible, not realizing that cohabitation is more a preparation for divorce than a way to strengthen the likelihood of a successful marriage — the divorce rates of women who cohabit are nearly 80 percent higher than those who do not. In fact, studies indicate that cohabiting couples have lower marital quality and increased risk of divorce. Further, cohabiting relationships tend to be fragile and relatively short in duration; less than half of cohabiting relationships last five or more years. Typically, they last about 18 months.   Myth #2: Couples don't really need that "piece of paper." A major problem with cohabitation is that it is a tentative arrangement that lacks stability; no one can depend upon the relationship — not the partners, not the children, not the community, nor...

Divorce Down; Cohabitation Up (2005)

A new report on the state of America‘s marriages finds that divorces are on the decline—but cohabitation is growing.   The National Marriage Project’s 2005 “State of Our Unions” report also found that the number of U.S. children born to unwed mothers is at an all time high—almost 35 percent.   Overall, the news is troubling to Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers. “Couples who live together often think they are in a trial marriage,” he said, “but they are really more like in a trial divorce, because of 100 couples who begin living together, 45 of them will break up before there is a wedding.”   And it’s not just couples that are hurt by cohabitation. Glenn T. Stanton, senior analyst for marriage and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action, said children are affected, too.   “These kids are going to grow up and develop their own attitudes about marriage, which are largely going to be, ‘Marriage is irrelevant,’ ” he told Family News in Focus. “We need to teach the message that marriage is not irrelevant—it’s one of the most relevant social institutions that humanity knows.”   People who are married, he added, tend to be healthier and more satisfied.   “It benefits all of us,” Stanton said. “It’s the glue that holds all of civilizations together.”   The increase in cohabitation mirrors what has occurred in Sweden, according to David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project. The marriage rate in Sweden, he explained, is one of the lowest in the world—and the country’s divorce rate is rising.   [http://marriage.rutgers.edu; CitizenLink, 08/08/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse,...

The Cohabitation Epidemic (2003) / The Rise of Cohabitation (7/2002)

The Cohabitation Epidemic by Dr. Neil Clark Warren Eleven million live-in partners prefer not to marry. Here's why they should reconsider… Years ago, tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf announced that their first child would be born. "This is a very exciting time for us," Agassi said. "We are so happy to be blessed with this gift." No one seemed to notice – or care – that the couple wasn't married. Only a generation ago, this revelation would have raised eyebrows.   Yes, Things have changed dramatically over the past few decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 million people were in "unmarried-partner households" in 1970. The number rose to 3.2 million in 1990. And in 2000, the figure soared to 11 million.   Now, half of all Americans ages 35 to 39 have lived with someone outside marriage, according to researcher Larry Bumpass. Make no mistake: We are witnessing a major societal shift before our very eyes. When an epidemic reaches this level of societal acceptance, many well-meaning people begin to ask, "Should we accept cohabitation as another social trend akin to fast food, cell phones and casual Fridays?" You may be wondering whether all this hubbub about living together is much ado about nothing. As a psychologist who has worked with singles and married couples for 35 years, I think our alarm over this issue is much ado about a lot. Who Cohabits and Why Typically, people who cohabit fall into two categories. First, there are those who have little or no intention of getting married. They simply want to enjoy the benefits of living...

Cohabitation: The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness will fill the air as each wedding approaches. But there is also a note of sadness here. By the time couples ask a priest, minister, or rabbi for marriage preparation, about 3  of 4 couples have been living together. When asked, “Why are you living together?” the most frequent answers are: “Because we love each other and want to be together…We want to get to know each other before we get married, and liveing together is the best way to get to know soneone…We want to make sure that our marriage will last.” On the face of it, cohabitation might appear to be a good way to prepare for marriage if it would lower the divorce rate, and especially if the stated reasons for doing so were valid. But the contrary is the reality. The sociology Department of both Duke University and Michigan University interviewed 30,000 couples who married after living together. The sociologists found that 80% of the marriages arising from cohabitation ended in divorce. Would an 80% failure rate indicate that a cohabiting couple actually does not get to know each other very well? Living together offers little or no guarantee of a happy, successful marriage. Why doesn’t living together achieve the hoped for objectives? The net result of all these interviews boils down to one common element: In essence, the couples interviewed stated that the cohabiting relationship was a dishonest relationship. Dishonest in the sense that, while living together before getting married, the couple was incapable of being honest with themselves or with one another about their relationship and their feelings. Love and lust were...