Exploding myths about cohabitation

1171173373_12cd9932e3_zUniversity of Virginia sociologist Bradford Wilcox has published a study of the effects of cohabitation, couples living together without marriage.  He especially looked at the impact on children when their parents are not married.  He quantified his study by examining what percentage of children over time are still living with their parents.

Now one could deduce using common sense that couples who are not married are going to have less stable families, with children being adversely affected.  This study, though, gives an abundance of empirical data.  Not only that, it looks at cohabitation globally, finding consistent patterns across nationalities and cultures.  And it explodes at least three common myths that people had assumed about cohabitation.

The complete study is here.  Read an interview with Prof. Wilcox on his findings after the jump.

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The financial problems of just living together

There are strong moral reasons why couples shouldn’t just live together without being married.  There are also strong psychological reasons why this is not a good idea.  (See also this.)  The Washington Post‘s financial advice columnist, Michelle Singletary, points out that there are also strong financial reasons not to, that sharing housing expenses, bank accounts, and buying property together can be disastrous if the couple isn’t married. [Read more…]

Synod says, look for the good in gay & non-marital unions

More from the first working document from the Catholic synod on the family:  The Church should “appreciate the positive values” that can be found in gay unions and with couples living together out of wedlock.  Traditional marriage, it says, is “ideal,” but the synod is raising the question, “What good can we find” in non-marital unions? [Read more…]

Common law marriage?

A “shotgun wedding” refers to a couple getting married because the woman had gotten pregnant.  (The term conjures up the image of her father pointing his shotgun at the groom.)  That doesn’t happen so much anymore.  Instead, according to a recent study, we are having “shotgun cohabitation,” in which getting pregnant becomes the impetus for the couple living together.

Now this is bad, but it also is a testimony to something good.  The mother and the father need to be together to raise a child.  That is, in fact, one of the natural foundations of marriage.  But even when marriage is dismissed and even when this ideal is often not realized, the impulse remains for parents to take care of their child.  And at least half of the cohabiting parents are still together after five years.

The study also shows that cohabitation has become the “poor person’s marriage.” [Read more…]

Cohabitation requires too much commitment?

The number of unmarried couples who are just living together skyrocketed in the last decades of the 20th century.  But since 2000 the cohabitation rate  has stalled.  Experts are saying that one reason may be that living together has become so common that it has become traditional, rather like marriage.  And, like marriage, living together is perceived as requiring too much commitment. [Read more…]

Cohabiting parents vs. married parents

Twenty years ago, Vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle gave a much-ridiculed speech in which he warned about the dangers of single-parenthood, specifically attacking the way it was becoming socially-accepted through the example of TV shows such as Murphy Brown.  Today, writes Isabel Sawhill in the Washington Post (no less), it is evident that Dan Quayle was right.

You should read what she has to say.  The evidence abounds that children do much better when their parents are married to each other.  She cites many interesting facts, such as this seemingly-easy-to-follow plan to avoid poverty:

If individuals do just three things — finish high school, work full time and marry before they have children — their chances of being poor drop from 15 percent to 2 percent.

One point she makes I found particularly striking.  She says that even when children are raised by both parents, the children do much better if their  parents are married, as opposed to just living together.  The reason this is so, she says, remains a mystery.

Why do you think this is the case?

 

via 20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms – The Washington Post.