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To Cohabitate Or Not To Cohabitate

Updated on February 29, 2016
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That Is The Question

In the last forty years, the number of people ‘living together’ has increased by more than twelve times. Cohabitation, as it is called now, seems logical; what with divorce rates soaring, people should make sure they are compatible. Moreover, it makes sense to share expenses. However, are we lying to ourselves? While I can show Bible verse after Bible verse stating that extramarital sex is a sin, I will not be using them to construct my argument. After all, why should someone who is not a Christian care how Yahweh feels about cohabitation? For this article, I will state all the logical reasons why cohabitation is a bad idea, of which there are plenty .

Since the 1960s, the divorce rate in the United States has increased by almost as much as four times [1]. With the cohabitation rate increasing more than 12 times from what it was in the sixties, we obviously cannot blame all of the increase in divorce on the higher cohabitation rates. However, we do know this; eighty percent of people who cohabitate split up at some point in their relationship, either before or after marriage. Those who make it to the altar are 50% more likely to end up divorced than couples who did not cohabitate. In fact, just a month of cohabitation increases your chances of divorce.[2]

Source

Why this is so is still a bit murky because there is no doubt that the argument for cohabitation seems logical. However, the argument, as logical as it seems, does not allow for the illogicality of the human being. This is not the first time we, as humans, have defied logic. Possibly the reason is that so many cohabitaters end up divorced is because they go into the relationship with one eye on the door, if things do not work out. People who cohabitate before marriage have a lower level of commitment; it takes more commitment to marry someone than move in with them.

Yet another reason, possibly, why cohabitation does not work might have to do with the history of the cohabitaters. For instance, cohabitating women are twice as likely to have been high school dropouts. Psychologist have noted that people who cohabitate seem to develop almost a contempt for their partner, they seem to have lost their respect for the person they profess to love. [3]

Source

As if this is not enough of a reason not to cohabitate, there is the effect it has on children brought into these types of situations. Children of cohabitating parents are twenty times more likely to be molested[3] and 22% more likely to be incarcerated . They are, also, five times more likely to live in poverty and three times as likely to be expelled from school or become a teenage parent.[2] Furthermore, children born to cohabitated parents are 25% more likely to see their parents split than children of married parents. And for what? An idea that has not panned out, an idea that has been proven faulty?

The conclusion is rather obvious; cohabitation is a bad idea, and it benefits no one, whether you cite God as your higher authority, or facts. Making a relationship work is difficult enough; you do not need the added difficulties of cohabitation.

[1] DivorceInfo.com. (2012.) Statistics. Retrieved 9 March 2012 from http://www.divorceinfo.com/statistics.html.

[2] RayFowler.org. (2012.) Statistics On Living Together Before Marriage. Retrieved 9 March 2012 from http://www.rayfowler.org/2008/04/18/statistics-on-living-together-before-marriage/

[3] Christianity.com. (2012.) Why Living Together Doesn’t Work. Retrieved 9 March 2012 from http://www.christianity.com/11581630/

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    • viquar profile image

      viquar 5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Voted Up. Thanks for a well written hub with all facts produced. These type of live-in relationships are a degradation of the society and makes us look like animals who have no commitments to any relationship.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I agree, but it also concerns me for the people indulging in them. Not to mention that it's so rare to see anything against them, even though it's been SHOWN that cohabitation is a bad idea.

    • viquar profile image

      viquar 5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Hi Melinda, It surprises me that there has been no comment on this hub after I left my comment 3 weeks ago. Which means that, not many people find this to be a subject to talk about. It's a pity...

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I don't know. I've given up trying to understand people.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      This is such a good hub,and you state the facts very clearly.Such relationships have to leave people very vulnerable at a number of levels.One rather sad aspect,I believe,is the individuals often remain very much focused on self,rather than as two united in marriage.The evidence certainly shows co-habitating is not such a good lifestyle choice.

      Voted up +

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you. What puzzles me the most about cohabitation is how people keep doing it when it's obvious that it doesn't work.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      I suppose we all have a tendency to avoid statistical evidence, when we make some decisions in life,and we allow feelings to drive us as opposed to intellect.Probably the same could be said of smoking,alcohol.etc,.We avoid the realities.

    • viquar profile image

      viquar 5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      In my opinion, this is where religion plays a role as a checklist, if someone is a believer and abides by his/her book, I am sure it would surely click once in their minds, "Does my religion permit this?". At times modernism appears to be synonymous to godlessness.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Well, religion is a help when it comes to things like this. It continues to amaze me how my God is right about these things; it goes to prove He's not out to ruin our fun, that the rules he made are for our emotional and physical safety.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      I agree with you both - but for so many people now,there is no place for God in their lives,or if there is it's on their terms!The perception of sin and morality has altered considerably,perhaps hijacked by relativist thinking.Of course,when you push God out,the void needs to be filled,and usually is ,by things not of God.

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      Linda Morgan 5 years ago

      Extremely good; well written and very much to the point.

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 5 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      I lived with my husband for two years before we married. The only problem was, it was with his mother and sister. Even AFTER we married. So we didn't really get to "make a house" and figure out how we worked together till we finally moved out. I am glad I lived with him still.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Well, 25% of people who cohabitate do make it. It's unlikely to make it after cohabitation, not impossible.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Cohabitation seems the logical thing to do for some who thinks about the prospect of a messy divorce. So in the beginning if one is unsure of the whole relationship, this may be really tricky.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Check your email for your official notification or click this link to read all about it https://hubpages.com/community/An-Invitation-To-A-... Enjoy!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      You make some excellent points on reasons not to cohabitate. I have know of relationships that lasted after cohabitation then marriage, but I think when you have children marriage is best. Good hub.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I also know of some relationships that worked, but it's rare.

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      Jennypie 5 years ago

      Melinda I love you... But hun I got to say the failure of marriage and cohabitation is purely based on both side willing to make it a working functioning loving relationship... Its all about making breaking up or divorcing not an optio

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Oh, I agree, but there's more to it. Like I said, I don't really know WHY cohabitation doesn't work, just that it doesn't. I've heard it be suggested that when two people cohabitate they lose respect for each other, which leads to a lack of willingness to work on the relationship. *shrugs* I can't explain this fact, just that it is so. Otherwise, people who cohabitate would have the same divorce statistics as people who don't. Obviously something happens, when cohabitation occurs, that make the relationship not work.

    • anjegirl profile image

      anjegirl 5 years ago from Myrtle Beach,SC

      I have been a relationship counselor since the 60's and what I know for sure is that the "FACTS" can be found to support any kind of theory one is prone to---I do disagree with most of what I have read here in that I have seen my most successful relationships among those who do not marry---and I advice young girls to never marry a man they have not spent at least two years living with---the best advice one can give for setting up success in a relationship is to choose a partner who has a similar background and upbringing as you have had---but then that theory goes right out the window because we all know that "opposites attract" and that is the person one usually chooses to love----when the bible was written (the original bibles) there was no marriage and if you read the lost books of the bible you learn that Jesus lived "in sin" with Mary Magdelaine---it is the little things like toothpaste tubes and toilet paper that break up relationships and marriage is just a piece of paper that makes it really hard to leave---the happiest couples I have ever seen are the ones who choose to date forever and not cohabitate

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Good lord. I have said that I know of lots of successful cohabitation relationships, too. I've also said that these are statistics, and that they can be put the other way - while 75% of cohabitated marriages don't work, 25% do - so therefore it's not impossible, just improbable.

      Also, this article is not about people who stay cohabitated, it's about people who end up married;for people that are successfully just living together, marriage is often a death sentence for that relationship. Add to that, I did not bring religion into this paper, because I don't need to. The facts are the facts. Just like the fact is that half of marriages end in divorce, christians or not. That's also a fact. If you have something to the contrary, I would love to see it, and I mean that sincerely.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      I don't think it's as rare as you say.

      Most married couples I know lived with their partner prior to marriage, including myself. I lived with my husband for three years before we were married. I'm Catholic, but I'm also a realist. Our parents even suggested we live together before we married (they didn't do so back in the 60s, but the four of them are very realistic individuals). I have seen people get divorced for things that could have been discovered far before vows. The fact that divorce is more known about and to some degree openly accepted makes it easier to fathom the idea. To say that married couples will just work out their living differences because they are finally getting to know the person they married, sounds nice, but I wonder how often it happens. If they're going to get divorced, they'll get divorced, regardless of whether they lived together before they were married. I've seen a startling number of newlyweds separate or divorce because they didn't know things about their spouse that they could have discovered in advance if they were living together. But again, someone has to believe in divorce and be in that mindset in the first place. Commitment is in the eye of the committed. It might seem like marriage is more of a commitment than cohabitation, but if the parties involved don't take their wedding vows seriously and accept the idea of divorce, then it's about the same kind of commitment as cohabitation: in the end they might need a place to stay and have terrible credit.

      I'd like to read on this issue further and I'm curious where you got your statistical data.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I cited where I got my data at the bottom of my hub.

      The whole 'people divorcing over things they would have found out if they'd lived together' thing has more to do with lack of communication which has become more and more prevalent in our society. Unfortunately, I agree - too often people marry people they don't really know. I don't think that cohabitation is the only answer to this problem; good premarital counseling works, too. Truthfully, I think ANYONE getting married should undergo premarital counseling, but that's a side point.

      The reason that marriage seems to be more of a commitment than cohabitation is that cohabitation isn't a commitment -it's two people saying well, i might not want to be committed to you, so I'm going to keep my options open. I will acknowledge this isn't always true, some people just aren't into doing something as established as marriage, but their commitment is real, but that's rare. Most people who cohabitate plan to eventually get married, which tells me that their issue isn't with marriage but with commitment.

      That said, and this is a good point for another hub (note to self), one of the main reasons, I believe, for the high divorce rates is the number of people who get married with a cohabitation mind-set - they figure if it doesn't work they'll just get a divorce. In those cases, they might as well have just cohabitated, it's the same darn thing.

    • anjegirl profile image

      anjegirl 5 years ago from Myrtle Beach,SC

      I have made it habit not to use statistics especially if they come from our government----polls and statistics can be falsely interpreted by the questions asked or the data or lack of data obtained from any poll or study resulting in statistics----my opinion comes from being a relationship counselor only

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      So here's the next question - where did you get your education? I'm pretty sure most colleges teach FACTS, and require you to back up any points you make with FACTS. Granted, what was being taught in colleges in the sixties would back up the 'logic' of cohabitation.

      Furthermore, what statistics would you say aren't falsey interpreted? I can find lots of other people who state the same thing, but I used government data because Christian sources are biased: I was very careful to use only unbiased sources and I can't think of reason the government would skew these statistics.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      Oh okay, thanks. I dunno how I missed those websites at the bottom. Although the second and third would be biased.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Yes, some of them are, but they're the ones addressing why it doesn't work. I was careful to use unbiased about specifically that it doesn't work. I honestly couldn't find anything that was unbiased that addressed why it doesn't work, because that's something that's baised. That's why I said that some of the theories about it not working were ..., because there might be other theories I couldn't find.

    • anjegirl profile image

      anjegirl 5 years ago from Myrtle Beach,SC

      I got my education at Oklahoma State University and nope, no one has required me to back up any points I make with any statistics---my counseling training came from two years of intensive therapy from both a male and female therapist after two violent rapes---and they didn't back up their teachings with statistics either---I studied Freud who was a complete moron and----I can tell you that the statistics coming from the Congressional Budget Office are not ony scewed but blatantly false regarding unemployment, welfare, Obamacare and many, many other reports they put out are just false and not fact---our government has been lying to us for a hundred years with their facts and reports and studies and such and I know why they do it---to further Agenda 21 plain and simple---if our politicians are speaking they are lying and that is a fact---our government skews everything to benefit the reigning party---just a week ago it was proven that Obamacare will cost twice as much as the CBO originally reported and again this is my opinion and I don't opine for the purpose of arguing or fighting with anyone and I won't play that game with you either---but I do know a little bit about scewed government figures

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I agree that those are skewed, but I also know WHY they're skewed. I can't figure out why the govt would skew these statistics - there's no money in it for them. In this I'm sure we'll agree - the govt will screw us for money without a moment of guilt. We can also agree that Frued was a moron.

      That said, I've also undergone extensive therapy for my own abuse and abandonment issues. I don't see how that makes someone a relationship expert.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Great hub! Thanks for bringing up a serious issue. My take? Folks just don't think! Especially about the long term consequences of actions that bring an immediate rush.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      I think that sometimes that's true, but I also think that this kind of information isn't readily available. Too many people still think that cohabitation is a wise thing to do. People are still stuck in the mentality of the sixties when that's what they were telling everyone to do.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      I agree, premarital counseling is wise. My husband and I had an interfaith wedding, so we had counseling with the Rabbi and Priest; expensive because you have to pay two officiants instead of one, but we certainly got our moneys worth for great advice and a wonderful wedding.

      I'm just thinking though... you're right, a lot of what I said could be due to a lack of communication and people just don't know who they are marrying these days. But, what if your partner is just absolutely disgusting? Examples: piled up trash, toenail clippings everywhere, picks his nose and eats it (but only in the comfort of home), leaves food out, wears underwear for a week before washing.. maybe even a hoarder. I just say "he" as an example, since we're both women. How do you find these things out? I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but I'm just wondering if you have an idea. If you visit him, sure he might clean up his apartment and be on his best behavior. But when you marry him and he decides he's comfortable enough to unleash his inner weirdo, then what? How do find those things out without living together prior to marriage?

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 5 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Great hub.

      I think part of the problem is that people don't think about it logically because it's an "emotional" issue so they focus on how they feel not what is smart or logical.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Honestly, a man who is that dishonest is going to be dishonest in other ways. Because this kind of thing is just that - flat out lying. Granted, occasionally you meet people who are that good of liars, but if you date for awhile and have a decent sized engagement, it's very unlikely that you aren't going to realize that this person is a liar. One of the possibilities of this situation is a whirlwind relationship, in which case that's a lesson in getting to know a person before you commit to a relationship with them.

      In this situation, there are two people at fault; the jerk for lying and the gullible person is responsible for their own gullibility; I would actually call the person who was gullible in this situation 'codependent'. I sincerely doubt that in the above situation there were no warning signs, but likely the significant other in this situation over looked lies, or told themselves that the liar in this situation just needs a 'good wo/man' or will change with love or any of the other codependent lies people in that situation tell themselves in that kind of situation because they're in love and want to believe the best in the other person.

      I want to go on record and say that sometimes people end up married to very very good liars, also known as sociopaths, and there is no warning. However people who are that good of liars also are good at lying while they're married. My stepdad's mom's first marriage was to such a person. And my great grandma's first marriage was, too. (To put it in perspective he was so bad my great grandma was able to get a divorce in the forties.)

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Heather - I was just looking over your reply, again, and I remembered I wanted to ask a question. My brother is pagan, and his fiancée is an atheist. I was wondering how you make an interfaith marriage work?

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Definitely true, in some cases. However, too often they do it because they've been taught that's the smart thing to do by people who's opinions they trust.

      Which brings me to another point, somewhat adjacent to this one. People should take into account the relationship history of the person they're taking advice from. If that person is divorced or never been married, it's probably wise to reconsider any advice they give you. Too often I talk to people who take relationship advice from people who can't make a relationship work. That'd be like taking medical advice from your accountant, or tax advice from you doctor.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      M--

      A few ways I guess. We were friends first. Fell in love with each other. I always thought God was a very serious businessman, but when he sent me a Jewish boy, I rediscovered God and his sense of humor. Being catholic with a Jewish husband isn't too much of a stretch-- we believe in the same God. It's more common ground than some interfaith couples have, so I consider us lucky. Secondly, and I always joke that this is my journalism degree talking, I view Jesus as a marketing campaign. I don't put a huge emphasis on Jesus since I believe he's just God in the flesh. So since I believe in God, with little emphasis on Jesus, my husband and I are usually on the same page. Without disrespect, I view Jesus as what God had to do to sell His religion. People weren't listening and they needed someone to relate to. It's all PR. I joke that I could have easily been born a Jew. There were times when we were dating that I wondered what it would be like if I had found a catholic boy instead. I always came to the realization that it's hard for a reason and in my heart I believe God had planned my husband and I coming together and getting married. The next people question people usually ask is what are we going to raise our children as? To believe in God yes, but we still have some figuring to do. The last thing we want to do is confuse a child but we also respect each other to continue celebrating our Christian and Judaic holidays and traditions, which we do. We have time to figure it out and possibly facing infertility makes that decision even easier. So we'll see. Forgive this giant paragraph; my iPhone won't let me do a carriage return.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Mind if I jump in here? Heather, if Jesus is no more than God's PR stunt, it sure cost Him a lot. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain and heart around your casual attitude toward someone whose love for sinner lead him to hang on a cross to atone for our sins.

      I can see how this makes things a bit easier with your husband. But what about eternity?

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      Ok, cool. I see what you mean about having more in common than most interfaith relationships. I have to admit, as a Christian of Hebrew descent, that I wouldn't be totally against marrying a Jewish person, because you're right we worship the same God, it's just AD that we disagree about. It's moot point, since I married a man with my religious convictions, though.

      God's sense of humor routinely makes me chuckle. When I first met the woman who was going to become my sister in law, I was babysitting her kids (now my niece and nephew) and I told her I couldn't imagine marrying someone with the last name that I now have. lol I'm sure God had quite a giggle at me.

      I'm sorry to hear of your infertility, and honestly can say that I hope that you have all the children you want.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Tasmania

      liftandsoar, you said: "I can see how this makes things a bit easier with your husband. But what about eternity?" Eternity is in the Here and Now. Not in the future. "Tomorrow never comes."

      Melinda, a couple of constructive thoughts for you, not being dogmatic here.

      I believe many people "co-habit" for economic reasons... i.e., it's easier and less expensive when you live with another person or persons. Maybe we should be building more and more small, individual, efficient and comfortable dwellings, just for the single person. Make them affordable and sociable sort of places. Why do we have so many huge mansions?

      Second point is about people who are married and find it breaking up. Do marriages succeed better when there is good, loving support from surrounding family and friends? Have we built a society in which it is considered "normal" to run inside, shut (lock) the door, pull the curtains tight and hide from everyone outside? The TV or a video, or the computer then becomes one's companion, instead of welcoming friendliness from real people. And if there are problems within the partnership, they are dealt with to the exclusion of supportive friends.

    • Melindas Mind profile image
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      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      The failure of marriage, as a whole, is not to be totally blamed on cohabitation, that's for sure. There are other things going on, including (as you stated) the lack of societal support. The increase in divorce rates is a complex issue, and would be an entire other hub. I feel, however, that part of it boils down to spoiled Americans. We want everything now and we want it to be easy and it doesn't work that way. And it doesn't help that we live in a feel-good world where we're told to 'follow our heart', even if that means chasing after a married man or woman. People are told enough that the heart lies and often doesn't know what it wants, and that following your heart only leads to heartache.

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