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Many singles view living together before marriage as a sensible "test drive" for the possible commitment of marriage at a later date. Some studies, however, put the divorce rate at 50 percent higher for couples who cohabit, while others put it as high as 80 percent.
It used to be called 'living in sin' and at one time every U.S. state had laws against it. Since that time a social revolution has taken place. Living together without the benefit of matrimony now carries virtually no social stigma, and many consider it a sensible approach. In the U.S. alone the number of unmarried opposite-sex couples sharing a household more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. Living together while unmarried is trendy in other Western nations too. In Britain, an estimated 80 percent of couples live together before getting married. Australia is just behind at 77 percent.
Although many studies predicted cohabitation would increase the stability of later marriages, evidence to date suggests the opposite. It also appears many couples who live together may have different expectations. "One study revealed 70 percent of women moved in with a man with marriage on their minds" (Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams, The 10 Commandments of Dating, 1999, p. 110). Men, however, were less likely to have marriage as a goal. In a national sex survey of married couples and unmarried couples living together, "men who were cohabiting scored lower on commitment than anyone else in the survey" (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, 2000, p. 85). A distinct advantage to marriage over cohabitation is the higher degree of emotional commitment in marriage.
Studies also revealed these temporary living arrangements tend to subject any children involved to an unstable home life. Some believe—erroneously—children do well as long as they live in a home in which there is a male and female, whether married or not. But the evidence doesn't support this. "Children living with cohabiting partners and in stepfamilies generally do less well than those living with both married biological parents" ( The American Prospect, April 8, 2002).
Part of the boom in cohabitation rates is fueled by a growing bias against marriage. Regrettably, the concept of sex as something special to be saved for marriage has largely become outdated. The freedom to have sex outside of marriage is a perversion of our Creator's intention for humanity.
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