File this under: Not Working but Very Popular! Or Why buy the Cow when you get the Milk for Free?
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY -August 2005 - Co-habitation (hattip - Al Mohler)
The logic Wartik describes is shared by millions of Americans. According to her research, nearly five million opposite-sex couples in the United States currently live together without marriage, and millions more have done so at some time in the past. Within just a few years of deciding to live together, most couples either get married or dissolve the relationship.
An amazingly large number of Americans see cohabitation as something of a laboratory for future marriage. Individuals agree to cohabitate, enjoying personal and sexual intimacy, without making the final commitment of marriage. The period of cohabitation amounts to a test-run for marriage. The logic is simple--couples believe that living together will allow them to make an informed and reasonable decision about marriage.
Nevertheless, the research is now clear. Cohabitation prior to marriage serves to undermine, rather than to strengthen the marital bond. Here's how Wartik summarizes the research: "Couples who move in together before marriage have up to two times the odds of divorce, as compared with couples who marry before living together. Moreover, married couples who have lived together before exchanging vows tend to have poorer-quality marriages than couples who moved in after the wedding. Those who cohabited first report less satisfaction, more arguing, poorer communication and lower levels of commitment."...............
" Nevertheless, she insists that all parties must agree that cohabitation is often injurious to children. "Cohabitating relationships, by their nature, appear to be less fulfilling than marital relationships," she argues. People who cohabit say they are less satisfied and more likely to feel depressed, the result, perhaps, of "the inherent lack of stability" in cohabitating relationships. Wartik then asserts, "As a result, cohabitation is not an ideal living arrangement for children. Emotionally or academically, the children of cohabiters just don't do as well, on average, as those with two married parents, and money doesn't fully explain the difference."