Did you know that more than 60 percent of marriages today are preceded by some form of cohabitation. And 75 percent of current cohabitors enter these relationships with some plans toward marriage, even seeing this live-in relationship as a smart move toward marriage. But does the experience of cohabiting teach couples things that help make them better spouses once they do marry? Does cohabitation contribute to stronger, happier marriages?
Unfortunately, it does not. Not even close! Glenn Stanton reveals in his new book, The Ring Makes All the Difference, that marriage, not cohabitation, is the best option for couples – but especially for women. Research tells us that a woman who cohabitates before marriage will increase her likelihood of getting a husband who:
is less committed to her;
is less committed than she is to the marriage;
is less likely to be emotionally and practically supportive; and
is more generally relationally negative.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but as Glenn and many other sociologists conclude, this pre-marriage experiment is not the best way to sustain a healthy relationship or to build a lifelong, lasting union “in sickness and in health.”
Cohabitation may be the fastest-growing family type in the U.S., but it is a mask to a true, authentic and committed relationship — marriage. Living together before saying “I do” will not help lower the divorce rate, and it will certainly not ensure an unbroken heart.
In many cases, in fact, it will lead to exactly the opposite. In the study and I quote again:
“expectation of a positive relationship between cohabitation and marital
stability … has been shattered in recent years by studies conducted in
several Western countries, including Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the
In Stanton’s book, the data indicates that people with cohabiting experience who marry have a 50 to 80 percent higher likelihood of divorcing than married couples who never
cohabited. A Canadian sociologist who participated in the study explains: “Contrary to conventional wisdom that living together before marriage will screen out poor matches and therefore improve subsequent marital stability, there is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lowered marital stability.”
After surveying the data on this question, another leading scholar contends that the only conclusion one could honestly reach was to wholesale “reject the argument” that cohabitation contributes to stronger marriages. In fact, if a couple wanted to substantially increase their likelihood of divorcing, there are few things they could do to so efficiently guarantee such
an outcome than live together before marriage. In fact, this is such a consistent finding in the social science research that scholars have coined a term for it: “the cohabitational effect.”
Here’s another interesting quote:
“One of the most clearly defined correlates of cohabitation is an increased risk of marital
dissolution,” says professor Jay Teachman of Western Washington University. He calls cohabitation one of the most “robust predictors of marital dissolution” — making living together first one of the worst things you can do for your marriage. Teachman also warns that “Even premarital sex by itself is associated with an increased risk of marital disruption…”
Stanton arrives at this conclusion in his book:
And as with other studies, the married couples with no cohabiting past are less likely to engage in aggressive and negative interactions, experience more overtly positive interactions, and enjoy more positive communications. These researchers conclude, based on their review of the best studies to date: The major practical implication of this review is that psychologists can inform the public, that despite popular belief, cohabitation is generally associated with negative outcomes both in terms of marital quality and marital stability. You see, marriage is not a consumer product that you give a try to see how it suits you. Marriage is a leaving of all other relationships to give yourself completely to your beloved. Cohabitation says, ‘I’m not sure about you. Can I give you test-drive to see what I think?’ Melts your hearts doesn’t
it, ladies? Marriage says, ‘I want all of you and I want to give all of myself to you!’ This is why cohabitation and marriage are such very different kinds of relationships. It is why the social sciences have come to the conclusions they have about living together before marriage being a poor and unhealthy idea.
Here’s the bottom line for me: God’s plan works. Build a fire in the fireplace and it’s cozy. Build it in the middle of the den floor…you’re going to have a big-time problem. The fireplace is marriage and the floor is cohabitation. I’m a simple guy…so that sums it up for me.
One last thing…on the marriage theme. At our church, Mt. Pleasant Baptist, in Wilkesboro, NC…on Sunday afternoon, October 30th at 4 pm, we’re going to have a “Resolution Signing.” What is that? It comes straight out of the movie “Courageous.” It’s on a theaters now and it’s fantastic! In the movie, men stand up and say, “I will lead my families.” Over and over they say, “I will.” Kind of reminds me of the marriage vows, “I do.” 🙂
What is the “Resolution?” I’m glad you asked. 🙂 Here it is:
do solemnly resolve
before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach
them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her,
and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God
with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness,
respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile
with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and
walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church,
obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
Witness Date Witness Date
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua
Think you might want to be a part of this? I’d love for you too! It’s for the entire family! We invite to you to come dressed in your best. If you have a coat and tie, put them on…if you don’t, come in what you’ve got. Bring a plate of “finger foods” or a box of cookies from the grocery store and we’ll provide the tea, lemonade and coffee. We’ll have a time of commitment and challenge and ultimately an opportunity to say: I WILL LEAD MY FAMILY.
You see I’m convinced the only thing that will bring our country back is not what happens in 2o12 with Obama vs. a Republican. It’s not going to come back because we get rid of Hollywood either. This nation’s only hope is a REVIVAL. And the only hope of that is through the Church (the Bride of Christ…interesting parallel isn’t it…we’re not “live-in” partners with Christ…we’re His bride). But, here’s the deal…the only hope for the church is through the family and the only hope for the family is through the leadership of Dad’s. So, it all boils down to this:
We’ve got a MAN problem in America. It’s called Dads. Men…it’s time to step up. If we’ll step up…then the family will be restored. If the family is restored, the Church will be restored and when the Church is restored, then 2 Chronicles 7:14 will come true:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Let me know if you’d like to participate with us on the 30th at 4pm. Drop me an email at: email@example.com.