By JUDITH and STEPHEN SCHWAMBACH
LANSING, MICHIGAN (AIS) - In the United States, June is still the traditional
month to get married. In fact, countrywide, U.S. couples are tying the knot
at a rate of about 6,400 weddings per day. In all, more than half of the adults
in the United States are currently married.
But compared to 30 years ago, that percentage
is down significantly – from just over 60% in 1970. What’s
responsible for the change? The biggest single explanation may
be the soaring cohabitation rate in this country. In the 1990s
alone, the number of couples living together without benefit
of a marriage license jumped more than 70%. Today, nearly eight
million of us maintain unmarried households.
At first glance, the logic behind this
major sociological experiment seems hard to argue against: With
the divorce rate so high, why not “test drive” the
relationship before you buy?
But as always, the real proof is in the
results. Now that so many of us have tried living together, the
social scientists have finally had plenty of people to study.
We are able to measure all our past theories against the facts.
So now that the data are in, we can answer the big question:
Compared to marriage, does cohabitation work as well as it seems
No. It doesn’t.
What follows is a brief snapshot of some
of the more revelatory findings:
1. Those who live together before marriage are almost
twice as likely to divorce than those who did not live together.
-Bumpass & Sweet 1995; Hall & Zhao 1995; Bracher,
Santow, Morgan & Russell 1993;DeMaris & Rao 1992 and
2. Women who cohabit are 3.3 times more likely to cheat
on their husbands after marriage than non-cohabitors.
-Forste & Tanfer 1996
3. Overall, cohabitating couples have less healthy relationships
than married couples.
- Jan E. Stets, "The Link Between Past and Present
Intimate Relationships," Journal of Family Issues, 114,
1993, page 251.
4. The U.S. Justice Department found that women are 62
times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend
than by a husband.
5. Compared to non-divorced married couples, people who
cohabit are 3 ½ times more likely
to experience major depression.
-Lee Robins and David Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America:
The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, New York: Free Press,
1991, page 72.
6. Couples who live together seem to grow more distant
-Markey 1999; Krishnan 1998; Lye & Waldron 1997; Thornton,
Axinn & Hill 1992; Liefbroer 1991; Sweet 1989.
7. The relationships of cohabitating couples are characterized
by more drunkenness, adultery and drug-abuse than married couples.
-Michael D. Newcomb and P.M. Bentler, Assessment of Personality
and Demographic Aspects of Cohabitation and Marital Success,
Journal of Personality Assessment, 1980, p.16
8. Cohabiting women are more irritable, anxious, worried
9. Married people live longer and generally are more emotionally
and physically healthy than their unmarried counterparts.
-Goldscheider, Thornton, Young and DeMarco, Brown University
and University of Michigan, “A Portrait of the Nest-Leaving
Process in Early Adulthood”, Demography 1993.
10. Married people report a higher degree of satisfaction
and happiness in the workplace than do those who cohabitate.
-Loscocco and Spitze, “Working Conditions, Social
Support, and the Well-Being of Female and Male Factory Workers,” Journal
of Health and Social Behavior 1990.
11. The more education you have, the less likely you are
to cohabit. Those not completing high school are nearly twice
to cohabit as those completing college.
-Qian 1998; Bumpass & Lu 1998; Johnson 1996; Thornton,
Axinn, Teachman 1995; Willis & Michael, 1994.
12. Married people do not feel as lonely and bored.
-Page and Cole, “Demographic Predictors of Self
Reported Loneliness in Adults,” Psychological Reports,
13. Couples who abstain from sex before marriage are 29%
to 47% more likely to enjoy sex afterward than those who
together before marriage.
14. Brown University and the University of Michigan found
that cohabitors were 10 times more likely to end up back
with their parents than those who married.
-Frances Goldsheider, Arland Thornton, and Linda Young-DeMarco,
A Portrait of the Nest-Leaving Process in Early Adulthood,
Demography, 1993, p. 694.
15. Married people have the most sex. Married people have
the best sex.
-"Sex in America" University of Chicago Study,
Time, Oct. 17, 1994.
Bottom line? Perhaps never before – for
so many – have the ancient words of the Bible rung so true: “For
this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united
to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
The Amy Internet Syndicate consists of 21 award-winning authors
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