Is Cohabitation Replacing Marriage?


Is Cohabitation Replacing Marriage?

Some have lauded the fact that the divorce rate in America has been dropping for over a decade. The ugly truth behind that statistic is that, rather than marrying, couples are simply living together. Since the 1960s, the number of cohabiting couples has increased 1,200 percent.

U.S. divorce rates are dropping. Good news?


The story behind that statistic is simple: Fewer American couples are getting married in the first place. In fact, the number of unmarried couples living together has increased 1,200 percent(to more than 5 million) since 1960. Today, more than half of all people getting married for the first time live with their sex partners first. An even higher percentage of divorced people who remarry cohabit first.

And watch this trend escalate: A growing number of cohabiting couples have no plans for marriage. Many Americans (high school seniors included) now view marriage as a non-essential to childrearing and union bliss.

The research comes from the report “The State of Our Unions” by the National Marriage Project at New Jersey’s state university.

“In the modern world,” wrote the report’s authors, “people are reluctant to make strong commitments if they don’t have to; it’s easier to hang loose. The problem is that society ends up with adult intimate relationships that are much more fragile.” Evidence indicates that those who cohabit are more likely to break up once they get married than those who don’t cohabit first.

The effect on the children that emerge from these unions is disastrous. These children “are highly dependent for their development and success in life on the family in which they are born and raised, and a convincing mass of scientific evidence now exists pointing to the fact that not growing up in an intact nuclear family is one of the most deleterious events that can befall a child” (ibid.).

Forty percent of all children will probably spend some time in a cohabiting household, and those who grow up in that environment are all more likely to face serious problems in life than their peers in nuclear households.

The report attributes the root cause of family breakdown to something “beyond politics and economics and even national culture …. Basic to this trend is the growth of a modern form of individualism, the single-minded pursuit of personal autonomy and self-interest, which takes place at the expense of established social institutions such as marriage” (emphasis ours). Marriage, in order to work, must be selfless.

What happens when the institution of marriage goes? Herbert W. Armstrong’s Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? (first published in 1968) and The Missing Dimension in Sex (1981) cover the issue. Marriage, between a man and a woman, gives children the experience of family life. Humans were created with a need for family life. As marriage fails nationwide, family life will crumble with it—and the consequences are already proving to be quite devastating.