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The Differences Between Marriage and Cohabitation
American Thinker ^ | 11/15/2009 | Jane Shaw Crouse

Posted on 11/15/2009 1:22:56 PM PST by SeekAndFind

Marriage rates are at an all-time low, a fact that has ramifications for all of us. Most people have no clue about the differences between marriage and cohabitation, thus they are completely blasé about a trend that undermines one of the basic foundations of civil society. I developed the following chart to note the significant differences between the two relationships.

The number of couples in the United States who are "living together" without marriage has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1970. Living together has become the "normative experience," with nearly 50 percent of young adults aged twenty to forty cohabiting. Moreover, the percentage of women in their late thirties who said that they had cohabited at least once reached 48 percent in 1995. And over one-third of the resulting households include children.

This trend is producing a cultural transformation that has profound ramifications for both people and public policies. As cohabitation precedes marriage, this temporary arrangement displaces marriage as the locus of sexual intimacy. Clearly, when the prevailing attitude is that having sex is "no big deal" and entails no commitment, then moving in and living together with no strings becomes that much more likely.

There are those who see no problem with this change in household arrangement and family structure. Some people argue that now that so many people enjoy affluence, the increase in cohabitation simply reflects people's indulgence, individualism, and preference for independence. Others say that marriage is unnecessary and irrelevant. They argue that the quality of relationships in a household is more important than the "piece of paper" that constitutes, in their minds, the only difference between marriage and cohabitation. Family structure, in other words, is useless in their view.

Contemporary research findings follow a general pattern regardless of nationality, age of partners, or income of the couple. Across cultures and over time, cohabitation is distinctly different from marriage, and it produces distinctly different -- and decidedly inferior --outcomes.

Sometimes couples choose to live together as a substitute for marriage even though they profess love for each other and want a permanent relationship. They explain that if the relationship goes sour, they want to avoid the trouble, expense, and emotional trauma of a divorce. The couple does not understand that without the commitment of marriage, there is little incentive or likelihood that they will work through their problems or that they will maintain the relationship under pressure. It is more likely that one or the other will "cut and run" when conflict arises, since each person's individuality is more likely stronger than their relationship together.

What research shows is that cohabitating relationships in the United States tend to be fragile and relatively short in duration: less than half of cohabiting relationships last five or more years. Typically, they last about eighteen months. Not surprisingly, partners in a cohabitating relationship are more likely to be unfaithful to each other than are married couples. Research conducted at Western Washington University found that there is less sexual fidelity between cohabiting partners, with 20 percent of the cohabiting women cheating compared with only 4 percent of the married women. The National Sex Survey (polling 3,500 people) reported that men in cohabitating relationships are 4 times more likely to be unfaithful than husbands and that women in cohabitating relationships are 8 times more likely to cheat than are wives.

Many couples say that they want to live together to see if they are compatible, not realizing that cohabitation is more a preparation for divorce than it is a way to strengthen the likelihood of a successful marriage. A study on premarital cohabitation conducted by researchers from Yale University, Columbia University, and the Institute for Resource Development at Westinghouse revealed that the divorce rates of women who cohabitate are nearly 80 percent higher than the rates of those who do not. Reviewing the literature, University of Michigan researcher Pamela Smock concurs, concluding that contrary to common expectations, "premarital cohabitation tends to be associated with lower marital quality and to increase the risk of divorce."

As the consensus about the detrimental effects of unmarried relationships grows stronger among researchers who study family life, more people are becoming aware of the dramatic and powerful differences between marriage and cohabitation. Given the seriousness of the decline in marriage and the ramifications that are so harmful to everyone, including the larger society, it is past time for a fact-fueled revolution to overthrow the pernicious anti-marriage myths that took root in the 1960s and 1970s. The costs of continuing the current trends are simply too high.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: cohabitation; marriage; sin
Marriage
Cohabitation
formally "defined" and publicly acknowledged commitment
private, informal, undefined, uncertain "arrangement"
pact with legal standing, privileges, obligations, and responsibilities
limited, ambiguous commitment, without clear, binding obligations
all-encompassing, total commitment of fidelity and complete sharing
tenuous, transient conditional "understanding" with partial sharing
two interdependent individuals in an exclusive bond
two independent individuals jointly occupying space

1 posted on 11/15/2009 1:22:57 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Great post.

Please add “Commitment” under Marriage and “Convenience” under Cohabitation.


2 posted on 11/15/2009 1:24:32 PM PST by thecodont
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To: SeekAndFind

As my son says: “Seems that the only folks who want to get married are the gays!’


3 posted on 11/15/2009 1:29:34 PM PST by hoosiermama (ONLY DEAD FISH GO WITH THE FLOW.......I am swimming with Sarahcudah! Sarah has read the tealeaves.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Easy - cohabitation includes sex.


4 posted on 11/15/2009 1:30:50 PM PST by Principled (Get the capital back! NRST!)
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To: thecodont

Cohabitation has devastated Scandinavia, et. al., but the courts have been influenced by feminism in no small way —men are the enemy, and “protection” of women is an act of liberation.

So men see a failed marriage as not only involving a loss of face and romance, but a good way to ruin’s one’s whole life.

So while women are protected, are they really happy?


5 posted on 11/15/2009 1:33:04 PM PST by gaijin
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To: hoosiermama
your son has a sharp sense of humor....

I love when Judge Judy gets a couple fighting over stuff and they aren't married...she tells them I didn't go to law school to figure out who paid what....If you want the court to settle this for you get married first...then you have a legal contract and the courts can get involved.....:O)

6 posted on 11/15/2009 1:33:44 PM PST by goat granny
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To: hoosiermama

LOL!


7 posted on 11/15/2009 1:42:41 PM PST by GOP Poet (Obama is an OLYMPIC failure.)
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To: SeekAndFind
This paragraph is succinct:

Sometimes couples choose to live together as a substitute for marriage even though they profess love for each other and want a permanent relationship. They explain that if the relationship goes sour, they want to avoid the trouble, expense, and emotional trauma of a divorce. The couple does not understand that without the commitment of marriage, there is little incentive or likelihood that they will work through their problems or that they will maintain the relationship under pressure. It is more likely that one or the other will "cut and run" when conflict arises, since each person's individuality is more likely stronger than their relationship together.

Basically, it is impossible to keep a committment which is never made.

8 posted on 11/15/2009 1:52:32 PM PST by Jemian (A man who reads nothing is far smarter than a man who reads nothing but newspapers." -- T. Jefferson)
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To: Jemian
Basically, it is impossible to keep a committment which is never made.

That is the very thought I have had but wasn't able to put into words. I remember reading somewhere in a book long ago that women "sabotage" themselves by living with a man prior to marriage, then wondering why they aren't married. Women have nothing to gain from this arrangement whatsoever but it gets easier to repeat this habit after doing it once. I still remember calling it what it was: shacking up. That phrase denotes it as being impermanent, which is exactly what cohabitation amounts to: not lasting; fleeting; temporary living arrangement. It cheapens those who practice it and devalues what should be highly prized. It is an American travesty and a shame on our society. Just seems as if no one is bothered these days.

9 posted on 11/15/2009 2:13:17 PM PST by scottiemom ("As a Texas public school teacher, I would highly recommend private school")
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To: SeekAndFind
OK, I'll put my flame suit on for this ...

I'll tell you costs too high ... divorce!

As a guy, you felt like you were raped, robbed, and kicked in the fact with glass covered boots.

When everything you worked for and built for 17 years gets cut down the middle + 30% (for her side) ... cohabitation looks damn good to me.

Think what you want, but that little marriage license means she has you by the short and curlies and she makes the rules (with the government's backing) when she wants out.

10 posted on 11/15/2009 2:16:50 PM PST by CapnJack
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To: CapnJack

I think you need ADAM - American Divorce Association for Men, I think makes the acronym.


11 posted on 11/15/2009 2:28:35 PM PST by RoadTest ( For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. - I Cor. 3:11)
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To: SeekAndFind

all I have to say on the subject is:

Why buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free.


12 posted on 11/15/2009 2:29:17 PM PST by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama lied, the economy died)
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To: CapnJack
Do you know why divorce costs so much?

Because it's worth it.

13 posted on 11/15/2009 2:33:13 PM PST by Knitebane (Happily Microsoft free since 1999.)
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To: CapnJack

Right on! I f you have a set of nuts in the US, you are the enemy. You have to rights...and people thought that slavery was repealed! Any man with a career and or assets knows that if and when he says I Do, he will end up saying “ I did what”...in front of a judge as he is stripped down to his ankles.


14 posted on 11/15/2009 2:51:03 PM PST by Gauchau (The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves!)
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To: TexasFreeper2009
Why buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free.

That's the male perspective. The female version is

You don't have to buy the whole pig, if all you want is a little sausage.

15 posted on 11/15/2009 2:55:09 PM PST by Jess Kitting
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To: CapnJack

As a female, I agree with you....the guy always gets it in the end...don’t know why any man would want to marry in todays world. I’ll put on my flame suit also...:O)


16 posted on 11/15/2009 2:57:41 PM PST by goat granny
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To: goat granny

“As a female, I agree with you....the guy always gets it in the end...don’t know why any man would want to marry in todays world. I’ll put on my flame suit also...:O)”

Yes, in general. But there are good women to marry...they just happen not to be born in this country. Instead they are born and raised in a society where divorce is still rare and looked at as a failure by their family (regardless of the particular circumstances).


17 posted on 11/15/2009 3:04:53 PM PST by BobL (Real Men don't use Tag Lines)
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To: SeekAndFind

“No-fault” divorce was a revenue enhancer for bottom-feeding lawyers which also means that there’s no enforceable marriage contract anyway. When a person decides they’re getting a divorce, it’s going to happen. If the other party objects, the threat of a contested divorce and its expense, stress and often false allegations, makes those objections go away. I don’t blame a man especially for avoiding marriage.


18 posted on 11/15/2009 3:12:50 PM PST by Emmett McCarthy
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To: Jess Kitting

Why buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free.
That’s the male perspective.

The female version is
You don’t have to buy the whole pig, if all you want is a little sausage.
___________________________________________________________
You have summarized the state of romance today. Well done.

For every action there is a reaction;

Marriage laws were designed to provide estate inheritance protection for women and children.

Divorce laws were designed to provide the same protection if the marriage died before the husband or the wife.

With the sexual revolution, birth control etc., men rutted without reservation and women followed suit.

Decades later, marriage is a necessity only for trophy wives and boy toys, who want security post mortem.

Reality for couples of similar ages; Divorce often costs more and consumes more time than most marriages.


19 posted on 11/15/2009 3:13:53 PM PST by sodpoodle (Never give up- Keep Up!!!)
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To: Jess Kitting
That's the male perspective. The female version is

You don't have to buy the whole pig, if all you want is a little sausage.


Yes, but women rarely ever want only a little sausage. That's the whole problem.
20 posted on 11/15/2009 3:16:15 PM PST by fr_freak
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To: CapnJack

As a divorced guy, I can say you are completely correct. They call the shots and walk away with a second income, tax free, to boot. It’s just amazing how stupid men are before they get married.


21 posted on 11/15/2009 3:38:51 PM PST by hot4plasma
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To: SeekAndFind

My single male friends aren’t even interested in cohabitating. They want casual relationships, don’t bring a toothbrush, leave nothing there. Not simply for sex but because they are very wary of the legal system. They know the law is stacked against them in divorce and they know they can even get jammed up in dissolution of a cohabitation arrangement.

In middle age there is an abundance of available women all asking me to introduce them to my successful single male friends. I just don’t do it anymore after seeing time and again them seeing them romance the man and then after getting a wedding ring go to the darkside.

Fortunately I have been happily married for 30 years but I would be terrified to do it again after all I have seen happen to my friends.


22 posted on 11/15/2009 3:41:04 PM PST by Outrance
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To: fr_freak
"Yes, but women rarely ever want only a little sausage. That's the whole problem."


23 posted on 11/15/2009 4:15:51 PM PST by CapnJack
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To: CapnJack
I could not agree more. And in “No Fault” divorce states with Community Property like Arizona it is even worse. One day she decides that she is “not happy” and the next you are living in the back of your car, paying $4500 on a mortgage on a home you are not allowed to set foot in, no longer allowed to see your children until you have been to court and robbed, and basically given up half of what you worked for your entire life for 15 months of marriage to a woman who did absolutely nothing but spend your hard earned money!

So, to all of those who think living together is a bad idea, I say no way. I used to believe that but no more. I can be committed just as well in or out of marriage. If a woman wants that piece of paper, then she can voluntarily offer to sign a prenup and then I may consider it. Otherwise, I am more than a wallet and will not participate in a system that sees me as nothing else.

24 posted on 11/15/2009 4:32:48 PM PST by StraightShooter69 (I hope I have some change left after Obama is done!)
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To: CapnJack

I think Divorce lawyers funded this study.


25 posted on 11/15/2009 4:37:09 PM PST by TET1968 (SI MINOR PLUS EST ERGO NIHIL SUNT OMNIA)
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To: goat granny

Anyone with a screen name like yours needs a homepage that has pictures of her KIDS.


26 posted on 11/15/2009 7:37:24 PM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: BobL

“Yes, in general. But there are good women to marry...they just happen not to be born in this country. Instead they are born and raised in a society where divorce is still rare and looked at as a failure by their family (regardless of the particular circumstances).”

Ahem!
There are - I’m sure - several FReeper ladies who value the commitment of marriage - who treasure their husbands - and who would even like to watch their sons grow up to be real men and not castrated metrosexuals.


27 posted on 11/15/2009 7:54:32 PM PST by Scotswife
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To: fr_freak
Yes, but women rarely ever want only a little sausage. That's the whole problem.

Interesting insight. Here's another one.

For men, sex is the end; for women, it's only the beginning.

28 posted on 11/15/2009 7:57:00 PM PST by Jess Kitting
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To: Jess Kitting

Yes, the beginning of using sex as a weapon and manipulative tool to acquire whatever it is they are after. At least men are honest about sex, they want it just for the sake of having it. Women.....not so much.


29 posted on 11/15/2009 8:55:25 PM PST by StraightShooter69 (I hope I have some change left after Obama is done!)
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To: SeekAndFind
There are those who see no problem with this change in household arrangement and family structure.

Oh..... They will.... in due time.

Namely, when Western Civilization collapses and they wake up one day as slaves.

Actually, they may never see it... But they will most certainly feel it.

30 posted on 11/16/2009 1:08:13 AM PST by Lexinom
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To: CapnJack

No need for a flame suit when you speake the truth

I was deployed overseas, came home, ex-wife had run up all my credit cards and found greener pastures and took my 6 year old son with her - My reward: a “feminist” Judge, lost 60% of my earnings, got all the bills, paid the mortgage for her and her boyfriend, and as a “bone” thrown to me, I get to see my son twice a month while paying child support

P.S. I now cohabitate


31 posted on 11/16/2009 4:36:41 AM PST by IAmNotAnAnimal
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To: hot4plasma
As a divorced guy, I can say you are completely correct. They call the shots and walk away with a second income, tax free, to boot. It’s just amazing how stupid men are before they get married

Interesting.....from a divorced and then remarried (23 yrs)woman I can honestly say that your remark shows sexism. Woman today have just as much to lose in a divorce, if not more. A lot of women earn more and contribute more to the marriage than the men involved. I have seen this happen many times before. It's not unusual for a woman to have to pay out the nose to get out of a marriage.

32 posted on 11/16/2009 5:13:01 AM PST by estrogen (time to fight)
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To: Jemian

I’m surprised that the author glossed over the financial imperative - taxes are so high that paying two rents can become a serious burden on a young couple, so they decide to move in together to avoid it.


33 posted on 11/16/2009 6:31:10 AM PST by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: estrogen

While I appreciate your opinion and situation, overall the Courts are decidely “sexist” in their decisions, try Googling “child support statistics” and “child custody statistics”; The vast majority of men lose their children or have joint custody and pay support (tax-free)regardless of the circumstances


34 posted on 11/16/2009 6:52:40 AM PST by IAmNotAnAnimal
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To: estrogen

They have much less to lose because the cards are not stacked against them. I personally know of 3 situations where the woman gave up full custody of her kids but is NOT paying child support to the man. Has she been hauled off to jail? NOPE. I have another friend who lost his job and was thrown in jail when he missed his support payments. There is no way it can be argued that women have more to lose or are somehow getting short changed by the system, it is clearly the other way around.


35 posted on 11/16/2009 1:19:47 PM PST by StraightShooter69 (I hope I have some change left after Obama is done!)
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To: SeekAndFind

READ THIS!!

/www.life123.com/relationships/issues/cohabitation/the-damage-that-cohabitation-does-to-women.shtml


36 posted on 12/09/2009 7:01:45 AM PST by LydiaShmydia (been there done that)
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To: SeekAndFind; Joya

Of interest.


37 posted on 03/03/2010 4:13:03 PM PST by Joya (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner!)
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