Friday, March 23, 2012

Living Together Before Marriage and Divorce Rates

In the past cohabitation prior to marriage signaled poor chances for a successful marriage later.  According to the latest government research that trend seems no longer to hold.  The trend of living together continues to grow, with 60% of couples today choosing this option prior to marriage.  So does this mean it no longer matters whether one lives with their partner before marriage, or instead of marriage?  Not necessarily.  While some may be cheering about these latest findings, the research also revealed another piece of information that could give pause for such celebration.  According to an AP article by Mike Stobbe: "The study found those who were engaged and living together before the wedding were about as likely to have marriages that lasted 15 years as couples who hadn't lived together.  But what about the couples who were living together but weren't engaged?  The new study found marriage was less likely to survive to the 10- and 15-year mark among couples who weren't engaged when they lived together...."  The article goes on to note a key difference:  commitment. 

Now as a Christian I still do not approve of cohabitation prior to marriage.  The Bible clearly refers to it as the sin of fornication.  That said, one of the traditional arguments in favor of marriage over simply living together is the element of commitment.  People who cohabitate without any clear intent for marriage lack this one critical ingredient, and it shows in the later dissolution of the relationship.

Of course, this problem also affects those who are married.  Divorce often comes when people lack the commitment to work through problems in their relationship.  Dissolving the marital bonds seems so much easier than taking the extra effort to pursue counseling and make other necessary changes.  How different times are from previous generations where divorce never even entered the discussion.  Admittedly, people did not always work through their problems productively.  Some simply chose to coexist for the sake of family and finances.  However, the attitude of always wanting quick fixes along with the impatience and dedication to make things work continues to chip away at the very fabric of our social relationships.  How sad. 

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