Cohabitation: A Preparation for Divorce

One sweet neighbor of ours “C” is a never-married single mom, 29 years old, raising four-year-old and seven-year-old boys. She has a boyfriend, a never-married single dad of one daughter. We have noticed that her boyfriend is over more and more. “C” and I have a nice friendship. I recently asked her about getting married and reminded her that they could even be reconciled and married in the Church since they have no prior marriages (both are cradle Catholics). She blushed and said she’d say yes, if he would ask.

“C” told me soon after that they had just talked about marriage and maybe having a child together after they get married. She seemed happy and even a little giddy. Then, just yesterday, she told me that his real estate income is way down, so he cancelled his apartment lease and has moved in with her, to save some money, since he often was staying there anyway. I wasn’t sure what to say, or what even what she expected me to say. All I could think about is, practically-speaking, it’s much less likely that he’ll propose now. He gets free “love” from her, as well as now room and board and childcare, with no strings attached. They have just slid into cohabitation, as is commonplace according to this article, and the prospects for a happy marriage have become even more grim…

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. 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.

Read the full text here.

  • http://BarbaraFalconerNewhall.com Barbara Falconer Newhall

    My husband and I lived together before we were married — but I wouldn’t agree to cohabiting until we were thoroughly engaged. He was dragging his feet, so I popped the question and he said yes. Things worked out fine. We’ve been married 35 years. You can read the story of how we got engaged on my blog at http://barbarafalconernewhall.com/?s=pop+the+question

  • Hologram Tupac

    Oh, there are definitely strings attached when a dude move in. I’ve seen a lot of “nice guys” end up married with resentment because they bit off more than they could chew

    Some n***** came up, some just didn’t
    That’s just the way it is, if it ain’t meant it, it just isn’t
    Some n*****’ll get money and pay n***** to back em
    So they can act up, feel comfortable, and rap tough
    And that’s a** backwards, cuz them n***** just gone keep coming back
    And that’s when extortion happens
    You struggle to get free, I know how this s*** be
    You deal with anything to live legitimately.

    –Obie Trice “S*** Hits the Fan”

  • Adele

    What I find especially disheartening about this is that no one seems to be learning from their mistakes. Your friend probably thought she was going to marry the father of her two children at one point, but despite learning the hard way how relationships without commitment end up, here she is doing the exact same thing all over again.

  • Kellie “Red”

    Slightly off topic, but I find it is difficult to explain our “cohabitating” friends to my children…I guess it is just one of the many difficult things to explain as a parent.

    • JMB

      Sometimes I say to my children that it is “none of their business” what adults do. I have a similar issue with a neighbor who is divorced and now has a boyfriend who spends the night with her when the children are with her ex husband. My youngest daughter is best friends with her daughter and a few times my daughter will ask me why her boyfriend’s car is there all the time. What do you say?

  • Debs

    Or, we could not judge them but love them as Christ loves us.

  • Karen

    While we can leave the judging up to God, and love them, we still need to answer our children’s questions – even if it is “I don’t know.” I always love to answer a question with a question. Keep it simple. I had this problem too. I remember talking with them about those who follow Christ should act differently than those who do not follow Christ. We live by different guidelines, we want to honor God. It is a good time to point out that not everyone goes to church or believes in God. That may sound silly, but if they are small they may really not know that. Much later we can get into comparing world religions and heavy theology. Just remember to highlight, we are all, at some point, people who make a choice that dishonors God. We are no better than anyone else, we are just accepting of His grace, forgiveness, and strength to help us follow Him and glorify Him. As long as you make this clear, I don’t think it is being a Pharisee to explain your household follows different guidelines for how you live your lives, esp. because you are giving God the credit. Maybe the best thing to do is to pray together for that couple, but as you pray with your kids out loud, just ask God to give the couple a strong faith in Christ. Not only will this make it clear to your children, they are not like your family in that way, but it will hopefully solve the problem all together – the couple will turn to God and get married or stop living together!

  • Bill Sr.

    We just need to stop coming up with socially acceptable words for our sins, that will help a lot when trying to “explain” some of the problems of our society to the childern and everyone.
    When those who wish to change our values they first must change our language and the liberal progressive leaders who have been writing our laws and regulations for the past decade are master at it.
    Who would have ever thought that under healthcare we’d come to believe pregnancy was to be considered a “disease” from which women must be protected, or if “contracted” can be viewed as “punishment”. Other tricks in vocabulary are more subtle. When debating an issue if you disagree with their agenda or arguments you are “divisive” or “confrontational” and to them “compromise” is when you are willing to capitulate to their wishes. This is the language the left and our own president are using today.
    The facts are today a new human life in the womb is no longer recognized as a gift from heaven or the procreated fruit of true love. Our president has even described its presence as a “punishment” for making a poor choice. Life in the womb is not treasured by society as its most valuable asset and our hope for the future.
    So if it has become a war of words we need to, as the president has said, “Level the playing field”. This society has decided womb life is no life and deserves “little consideration” and no “protection” under the law. Some, like our president have “personally” voted (three times) and “legislatively” determined that even when taken out of its “home” in the womb and “discarded” on an abortionist operating table having survived an attempt to be “destroyed” it must be “ignored” and left to die since it was “unwanted”. Unlike the unwanted and homeless on our streets these precious little souls currently have no tin cup or “neighborhood shelter” or government “assistance” program to turn to for help. When they “arrive” on the scene or sonogram they aren’t received like illegal aliens and given the “benefits of citizenship” like the thousands crossing our borders daily. In short, the most helpless of all “new life” in our country are not only the “least served” by us they are being deliberately challenged by a totalitarian regime as a “social problem” unless (pray God) they are actually desired by the “patient”…formerly known as mothers.
    We should add, lest you think otherwise, the next “target” for the “tyrants of translation” will be to “convince” us their wonderful healthcare system can no longer carry and somehow needs to eliminate or be “relieved” of the tremendous “burden” of the extremely expensive elderly “beneficiaries” of Obamacare.


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