At a recent meal, Virtuous Blonde and I were talking about marriage and the continued trend of people cohabitating. Marriage, it seems, is too much of a hassle, especially when you figure that 50% of them are ending in divorce. Logically, if you plan to not be together permanently, why blow a lot of money on a wedding and then turn around and blow money on legal fees and splitting your assets with your ex. Cohabitating seems to give you more of what you want (the companionship) and less of what you don’t want (the fees, expectations, responsibility).
This from London’s Telegraph:
Marriage is in terminal decline, Government figures showed yesterday. Within 25 years nearly half of all men in their mid-forties and more than a third of women will not have walked up the aisle.
In the same period, the number of people cohabiting will have more than doubled to nearly four million.
The figures published in a Population Trends report by Whitehall actuaries prompted fresh warnings from family campaigners that Government policies had marginalised marriage.
Cohabitation was less stable, the campaigners said, ending on average after under three years, with profound implications for any children involved.
What kinds of implications? Stability. Being a parent, I know how much children like stability. Their world revolves around the fact that they can expect things at certain times: meals, naps, bed time, bath time, parents coming home from work, etc. When a child can’t count on a parent to be there, that’s one less root or foundation for a child. Factor in the possibility of multiple men in mommy’s life and none of them committed to her– well, you get the picture.
Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “The serious decline of marriage is a very worrying development. Cohabitation is an inherently fragile partnership.
“It is not divorce which will have a serious impact on children in the future but parents moving in and out of different relationships in which marriage is not a factor.
“A lot of women in their forties and fifties will be living alone, perhaps having had a relationship or two but never having been married, with all sorts of emotional and financial implications.
Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think-tank, said: “Of all the statistics that show our problems this is the one that matters most. There needs to be a programme to educate the public in the problems associated with children brought up by one parent.”
Statistical evidence says that children brought up by married parents tend to do better than those of cohabiting couples or single parents.
This is obvious. Two people are stronger than one. Two people that are committed to each other are stronger than two that are just there for right now while the wind blows the right way.
Research presented recently to the Royal Economic Society found that husbands
and wives were significantly more satisfied with their lot when their spouse was happy but couples who lived together outside marriage could not hope for such fulfilment because they did not depend so much on each other.
Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, suggested that when couples married they became more interdependent.
“Marriage is when two people become one,” he suggested, “and cohabitation is when two people remain two.” [Emphasis Mine]