The losing record of cohabitation

By Rebecca Hagelin

Recent figures show that more than half of all couples who plan to get married live together first. No wonder today’s divorce rate is so high.

The numbers are in: A new book entitled, “The Family Portrait” by the Family Research Council reveals that couples who cohabit before marriage are 46 percent more likely to divorce once they do get married than couples who don’t live together first. The statistics also show that cohabitators suffer from more depression, alcoholism, poorer relationships with other family members, and experience less happiness in general than do married couples. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The bedrock principle of a man and woman having sex and living together only within the commitment of marriage was clearly stated long ago by a loving God who knew it would be for the benefit of us and our children.

For those who are quick to dismiss FRC’s stats as religious propaganda, you should know that the organization neither conducted nor commissioned the studies that reveal what most people instinctively know, but consistently ignore: A stable family unit is the foundation for a stable society and for raising stable children. “The Family Portrait” is a “compilation of data, social research and polling on contemporary American attitudes regarding marriage and family.” The book includes both current data as well as historical trends on a variety of issues including marriage, child care, unwed childbearing, divorce and cohabitation. Each fact is carefully documented and footnoted with the name of the research organization, medical facility, agency or polling company responsible for the particular statistic. Scores of various sources are referenced, providing the most comprehensive data ever compiled on issues of concern to the family. And the verdict is overwhelming. As Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council put it, “The crisis in marriage and family is real, and its implications for America’s future are chilling. No civilization can long endure without strong, healthy families founded on the inviolable institution of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.”

Creating sound, stable families is so obviously the answer to saving our society from a litany of social ills and heartbreak that it’s almost astounding in its simplicity. Yet, Americans, it seems, would rather have the government throw billions and billions of dollars in continued ill-attempts to fix what are at the core moral and personal problems, than we would to proclaim the truth and accept the personal responsibility necessary to be a part of the stable family units we all crave. Government policy endorses the broken family through handouts and endless programs, and levies penalty taxes against individuals who contribute to the stability of our society through marriage. Add that to the endless barrage of Hollywood propaganda (aka entertainment) that idolizes adultery, casual sex, divorce and homosexuality and it’s no surprise to discover that America has seen a marked decline in the number of marriages that occur each year in every age group since 1970.

Commitment. Love. Integrity. Faithfulness. These are clear virtues upon which we must stand, both as individuals and as a nation. It’s time for us to reach back for the sake of the future and restate those timeless values upon which our families and nation will rise and fall. There are right and wrong choices. When individuals make the right choices regarding making a commitment to marriage and to their families, they and society are better for it.

Still not convinced? As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few more “snapshots” from “The Family Portrait”:

  • Women are safer in marriage;
  • Children are safer in homes with married parents;
  • Children in homes with married parents are healthier and engage in less risky behavior;
  • Children in cohabiting households are more likely to be economically disadvantaged;
  • Children in cohabiting households are likely to have emotional and behavioral problems and experience greater educational difficulties;
  • Cohabiting households are more likely to be poor than are married-couple families;
  • Children from broken homes are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

America must promote and encourage the ideas of an inherent value in strong marriages and families if we are to survive as a nation. If we as a society continue to promote and casually accept cohabitation, rampant divorce, sex outside of marriage and homosexual “partnerships” as alternatives to traditional marriage, we can expect more poverty, more crime, more emotional problems and more social chaos. For the skeptic who needs more proof, there’s plenty of it to be found in “The Family Portrait.” It may be the best five bucks you ever spend.