|Dr. Val Farmer|
|Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships|
Marriage Is In. Living Together Is Stupid!
February 15, 1999
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? "It is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along."
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that 60 percent high school senior boys and 50 percent of senior girls agreed with that statement in a survey taken between 1991 and 1995. Between 1976 and 1980 the percentages were 45 percent for young men and 30% for young women.
It sounds reasonable doesn't it? Living together tests your compatibility - the bad relationships are weeded out and those who eventually get married will have stronger marriages. Too bad it is not true.
By 1998, there were 4,236,000 unmarried couples in the United States, up from 439,000 in 1960. Half of all the brides going down the aisle aren't blushing. More than half of all first marriages are now preceded by cohabitation.
In a new study, "Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage," Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Papenoe from the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, reviewed over 50 studies concerning the effects of living together on marriage and family life. Here are some of their findings.
In the last decade, the proportion of cohabiting mothers who eventually married a child's father declined to 44 percent from 57 percent. Also, the great majority of children in unmarried couple households were not born from the current relationship, but typically, from a previous union by one of the partners, usually the mother.
One study in Britain found that children living with a cohabiting couple are 20 times more likely to be the subject of child abuse. In cases in which the child is living with a mother and a man who is not the father, the risk increases 33 times.
So high school seniors, what do you say now? Do you care to have a marriage that lasts? Do you want to be happy? Do you want secure, well-adjusted children who aren't torn apart by a married or unmarried household splitting apart? Do you want a respectful relationship free of abuse for yourself and your future children? Over 4 million people can be wrong. Dead wrong.
Marriage is in. Living together is stupid!