Have you ever heard of “shacking up?” Now, people describe living together with a more complimentary phrase: “a trial marriage.” And apparently, it’s all the rage:
Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing.
In fact, you may have even recently heard rumors I’m living with my boyfriend. As that gossip spread a couple of weeks ago, people all over America were applauding me for –finally! – coming to my senses and abandoning my no-sex-until-marriage policy. Others are saying that me shacking up with my boyfriend is the height of hypocrisy.
Here’s the thing. It’s not true. As I mentioned before, I recently bought a home across the lake from my parents’ house. While it’s under renovation, I’m actually living in an apartment on their property. Rest assured — there’s no way on earth my mom and dad would allow a guy to spend the night here with me.
But even if I weren’t temporarily living on their property, I wouldn’t move in with someone. Why? Well, new evidence reported in the New York Times suggests what the Bible has already told us: living together before marriage does not lead to happiness:
Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.
Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabitors were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.
These so-called “trial marriages” hurt men, women, and children. So, all of you girls who’ve said yes to sex in the wrong context know this: you don’t have to say yes to living with someone in the wrong context too.
I guess it’s unanimous. Because now we have the Bible, the New York Times, and even Beyonce suggesting the best way to secure relationship success is to… “put a ring on it.”
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