I just came across a citing of a CDC study that reported that 60% of couples who live together won’t get married. Sorry ladies, he’s probably not going to get down on one knee just because you’re sharing rent (or letting him freeload). He’s probably already getting what he really wants – and it’s not a relationship with you. It’s just sex.
The same study indicated that for the minority who actually do get married, there is no greater likelihood that they will stay that way. So, let’s imagine 10 hypothetical co-habitating couples… If the averages hold true, only 1 or 2 of these couples will still be together in 15 years. (Some studies put it at only 1 couple still together after only 5 years.) While the numbers of couples living together before getting married has increased over the past several decades, the success rate of marriages has not. This leaves me to think that at least one of these two possibilities is true – and probably both:
- At least one of the parties involved in the couple that lives together doesn’t really intend to ever get married to the other in the first place. They’ve slid into the living arrangement by default because it was easy, not because they’re actually working to grow the relationship.
- This social experiment we’ve called co-habitation (because that sounds so much more sophisticated than ‘shacking up’) has failed. This practice has not led to more stable relationships in any way, shape, or form.
The goals of marriage aren’t just sex and expediency. Marriage is about developing intimacy – deep & lasting relationship. Living together before marriage seems to be creating no positive movement toward that goal. Living together before marriage is not good “practice” for marriage. (Actually, with all the emotional & financial entanglement that has to be sorted out on moving out day, it’s more like training for divorce.) It’s not a good “test drive” of married life at all because it is void of the commitment that actually makes a marriage thrive.
So why am I writing about cohabitation on a youth ministry blog? The high school and middle school students that you know probably aren’t living together (though there may be a few who are). But about half of them think it’s a good idea to live with someone before getting married. You know… so you can get to know if you’re really compatible and stuff. But it’s not a good idea. While this has almost become a rite of passage for young people, it’s a practice that is leaving young adults broken and scarred and scared to relationally give themselves fully to another.
Expedience comes at a cost.
Why are we so resigned to letting our next generation pay that cost? There’s a better way.
Be sure to check out the follow up post to this one: God’s Grace Is Bigger Than Our Stupidity.