Over the last few decades, cohabitation has gone from being rare to routine. So it isn’t too surprising that now there are more Americans who have lived with a partner than have married one. That is the conclusion of the latest Pew Research Center statistics.
Also disturbing is the increasing percentage (69%) of Americans who say it is acceptable for a couple to live together even if they don’t plan to get married. The excuse used to be that you might want to “test drive” your relationship before you get married. Now many see nothing wrong with living together even if marriage is never planned for the future.
Many years ago, I included a chapter on cohabitation in my book, Christian Ethics in Plain Language, because pastors were complaining about the number of Christian young people in their congregation that would live together before marriage. When the pastor would share verses from the Bible that speaks to the issue of premarital sex, the couples would often ask if there were other reasons not to live together.
Studies by secular sociologists found that in marriages where couples cohabited before marriage they increased their divorce rate by an additional 46 percent. They also found that cohabiters experienced significantly more difficulty in their marriages with adultery, alcohol, drugs, and independence than couples who had not cohabited. They also had a lower relationship quality, lower stability, and a higher level of disagreements.
Of course, the impact of cohabitation is also negative for society in general. The percentage of American adults who are currently married continues to decline. Fewer stable marriages are not good for the couples. It is even worse for children who need to grow up in a stable two-parent home.
Pastors and Christian leaders need to teach about the importance of traditional marriage and speak out against the dangers of cohabitation..