Recently, I read an article in the Health section of NBCnews.com. I can’t say I am surprised by what I read, since the piece is entitled The ‘new normal’: Cohabitation on the rise. Research shows “Nearly half of women in ‘first unions’ with men – 48 percent – moved in with no wedding vows, according to interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010, up from 43 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 1995.” “It’s becoming more acceptable to be in a long-term relationship without a legal document,” says Pamela J. Smock, director and research professor at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Statistically, “By the time they’re 20, 1 in 4 women ages 15 to 44 in the U.S. have lived (cohabitated) with a man.”
One woman interviewed went so far as to reveal personally, “It was definitely a no-brainer for me. It was always something I planned to do.” Cohabiting was a way to make sure they were ready for the daily challenges of marriage, she stated, adding that “most of the young women she knows feel the same.”
For those surveyed, living together is merely an expected part of the journey. It is a test drive. A trial run. This way, if it doesn’t “work-out,” …
Where do we point our finger? What is perpetuating this warped ideal?
We are a generation of instant gratification, “brought to you by…” every commercial, movie, news broadcast, Facebook post and tweet showing the perfect relationship. We all want that!
And, that Pinterest perfect family is surely hassle free, right?
Our consumeristic hearts have added peace, joy and happiness to the list of things which can not only be easily shopped for and purchased, but can just as easily be returned and/or replaced.
Customer beware! Less than half of these “partnerships” survive.
According to Brad Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University, cohabitation is worse than divorce on kids.
Wilcox’s research found teens living in a cohabiting stepfamily were more than twice as likely to use drugs, compared to teens living in an intact married family, even considering differences in income, education, race and family instability.
In fact, children in cohabiting stepfamilies rated worse on drug use than children in stable single-parent families.
Evidence further suggests that the most dangerous situation is one where a mother cohabits with a boyfriend. A recent federal study, by the Administration of Children and Family Services, found that children cohabiting with a parent and an unrelated partner (usually a boyfriend) are about 10 times more likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally abused, compared to children living with their own married parents.
The research suggests that cohabitation almost doubles a child’s risk of negative outcomes like poor school performance, psychological problems and delinquency/drug use. This is probably because cohabiting relationships tend to be characterized by less commitment, less sexual fidelity, more domestic violence, more instability and more insecurity, compared to married relationships. Needless to say, these kinds of relationship factors don’t foster an ideal home environment for children.
Finally, according to the American College of Pediatrics (March 2015), cohabitating partners are at a greater risk of sexually transmitted disease, due to a higher percentage of multiple partners and incidence of infidelity.
Are you surprised by these findings? Are you saddened by them? The consequences for families surviving these living situations is heartbreaking.
What is the alternative? What option is available for a future cohabitant who, like the woman in the article, plans to put their consumer cart before the proverbial wedding carriage?
- The Bible says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Stop shopping for love in all the wrong places.
- Secondly, Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Stop test driving love and happiness before you commit. This will never prevent hills, curves, fender benders, or roll-overs. The road is narrow and hard to travel. Jesus wrote the manual, and He will be there with you until the journey’s end.
- Lastly, live your life with Jesus. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 34:4. Align you heart with His. He will supply all your needs, no matter what lies ahead. He will never leave you or forsake you!
A recent Bible study reveals, “God’s message is near you, on your lips and in your heart.” That is the message of faith that we preach. If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. As the scripture says, “Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved,” (Rom. 10:8-13).
Now, these are statistics we can actually “live with”…
The one who calls us is faithful! Yes Lord, “I do.”