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Discerning Culture

Why Living Together Before Marriage is Bad – Negative Effects of Cohabitation

The principle of inoculating our children teaches us to proactively bring up thoughts they will encounter in the world and actively deal with them.  Since the 60s, marriage has been under assault. Today we can see that the anti-marriage message has won among non-Christians.  Living together before marriage is the accepted norm. How will we handle this? We can tell them that it violates God’s word. But it helpful to also show that there are negative effects in this life of disobeying God. God’s word is for our best. We need to proactively bring the message of purity until marriage up. And since sin has consequences, we should expect that even nonChristians who violate God’s law experience some negative consequences. This interview with Michael McManus, author of Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers, gives some statistics about the negative effects of cohabitation (living together before marriage).

What’s so bad about living together?

Michael McManus: Couples who live together are gambling and losing in 85 percent of the cases. Many believe the myth that they are in a “trial marriage.” Actually it is more like a “trial divorce,” in which more than eight out of ten couples will break up either before the wedding or afterwards in divorce. First, about 45 percent of those who begin cohabiting, do not marry. Those who undergo “premarital divorce” often discover it is as painful as the real thing. Another 5-10 percent continue living together and do not marry. These two trends are the major reason the marriage rate has plunged 50 percent since 1970. Couples who cohabit are likely to find that it is a paultry substitute for the real thing, marriage.

Of the 45 percent or so who do marry after living together, they are 50 percent more likely to divorce than those who remained separate before the wedding. So instead of 22 of the 45 couples divorcing (the 50 percent divorce rate) about 33 will divorce.

Isn’t it practical sometimes?

MCMANUS: No, never. A Penn State study reports that even a month’s cohabitation decreases the quality of the couple’s relationship. Cameraswere placed in living rooms, which recorded that couples who began their relationship living together were more negative when they discussed an issue, more demeaning, more flippant, more likely to deride the other person. Couples who had never cohabited, by contrast, have much more respect for one another, and settled issues more amicably. Thus, negative patterns of behavior learned in cohabitation came into the marriages and destroyed a higher percentage of them.

The time to point this info out to our children is NOW! God’s word and laws are for our best. And even social science shows this to be true.

One Comment

  • D.M.B says:

    Is is so nice to see a post on cohabitation that shows the statistics and negative effects on the relationship that do not necessarily put God into the equation. With the amazingly large rise in the nonpracticing/unbelieving youth, it is hard to convince any young person that what they are doing by cohabitating before marriage is wrong. Young people feel that since they have no faith that God has nothing to do with their cohabitation and that religion aside, what they are doing is okay, and in fact hurts no one. These studies show and prove that, that rational is incorrect, no matter what religion (if any) you are. Thanks for your study.

    Cohabitation is Bad (Southwestern Michigan)

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