New Report Shows Cohabitation on the Rise
The percentage of cohabiting partners in the U.S. has been rising steadily, but as the above graphic illustrates, this percentage unexpectedly rose 13 percent between 2009 and 2010, an increase of 868,000 couples. These are both opposite sex and same sex couples.
This statistic may have several explanations. People are waiting longer to get married. The age of first-time married people has slowly risen over the last few decades. Also, the economy has made it difficult to for people—especially young adults—to find and keep jobs, driving them to cohabitate with others as a solution to lower living expenses. Disillusioned by divorce, many people are reluctant to jump into a marriage and see living together as a preferable option. But the economy has not just affected young people. Many older people choose to cohabitate because if they marry they will lose the government benefits from a deceased spouse.
Another possible explanation for the increase in cohabitation is that many view it as a trial arrangement for marriage. The rationale is that, if couples are able to successfully navigate months or years of cohabitation, they are better prepared for marriage.
At this point it is imperative to point to the sanctity of marriage. Dr. Bob Whiddon, of the Northwest Marriage Institute, stated, “There is not much societal pressure to stay married”. In fact, Whiddon recently observed, “Not even churches pressure people to stay married as much as they used to do.”
Marriage is a life-long commitment between two people. Churches need to teach that marriage is sacred and that it is to be taken seriously. Cohabiting is not marriage. It is not even practice for marriage. Marriage was ordained by God as a powerful union that mysteriously unites people as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is time to reclaim marriage as the preeminent, most precious way to cohabitate.
What are some ways we can teach about the sanctity of marriage?