According to the latest American Community survey reported in the New York Times, married couples now account for 49.7% of the living arrangements that people are having today. The study itself shows a rise in both the number of people that are cohabitating and those that are same-sex couples.
Of greater concern than the number of same-sex couples should be the number of cohabitating couples and what our society is doing to encourage this behavior.
I believe that I was home for a summer break the first time that I was confronted with cohabitation. Up until that point in time, in my life, I had just assumed that someone was either single or married– it was the “right thing to do”, after all. I was confronted in an unusual way– I saw a checking account with two different people’s names on it. One of the names was a girl I knew in high school, the other a guy I had never met.
This must have been about the time that “living in sin” was losing its stigma and becoming accepted. We’ve talked before about the benefits of living as a married couple rather than two cohabitating individuals. What I’m seeing now, however, is society’s reaction to the fact that more and more individuals are choosing to stay that way.
One result is the effect it has on married couples. There’s just something about going to a wedding– especially if it’s a friend’s or family member’s. Knowing that there’s a shared journey ahead gives you a smile inside as you sit and watch the ceremony with your spouse. Just searching through images to find this post gave me a smile remembering the events of Virtuous Blonde and I’s wedding. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s something that the bride is said to remember for a lifetime.
The problem is, what weddings do for married individuals, cohabitation seeks to either make light of or destroy. For one thing, a married couple traditionally (I know, cohabitation can lead to marriage (and not a strong one at that) but humor me here!) has not lived together and chooses to embark on the unknown. At one point, married couples had been known to wait to consummate their relationship physically only after being married.
Cohabitating couples, while playing house, consummate relationships, and almost pretending to be married without the commitment or the vows. It’s as if they are saying to the married couples “There’s no need to wait, and there’s no reason to make vows.” “You can have a house, and all the benefits of marriage, yet keep the ability to dump the guy/girl if you don’t like what’s going on.” This, in turn, is picked up and repeated by those in Hollywood. “There’s no need to be married– just live together and have children together!” Right Brad and Angelina?
And this leads to the second problem. As more and more of these domestic arrangements exist, they are starting to demand the blessings that used to be bestowed only on married individuals. They can now get health care, visitation rights, inheritance rights, etc. They are starting to have sway in court battles over children, and law is having to be crafted on who gets what in the case of a split.
But should society favor married couples over cohabitating couples? Yes. For the good of the children. It has been proven time and again that children are best raised in an environment that has a stable leadership/family structure. If it isn’t bad enough that couples are able to divorce, now we make it even easier for someone to walk out on the biological parent of a child.
Since society needs children to thrive (especially those that are good citizens), they need to have the best and most stable environment for the nurturing of those children. It’s incumbent upon our society to start enforcing standards and even shame if necessary to correct this sin. It is “living in sin.” Those of us that may no longer be in the majority must encourage those that are living this way to get married, and change their lifestyle and we should not be embarrassed that we are married.
10 thoughts on “Are You Outnumbered?”
The picture that comes along with this post is very symptomatic, I can see tens of similar ones in our Swedish newspapers every day, when newly-weds present themselves. The order of things is completely upside-down: first come children, then the engagement, finally wedding. Often followed shortly by divorce.
What is the explanation? I do not know. Permissiveness? Tolerance (my ‘favorite’ word)? It is fascinating, though, that many of those weddings take place in a church!
Tradition – they say. It is so nice and real – to be wed in a church, by a priest or a pastor.
I call it hypocrysy, though I realize that it is like fighting the wind. We c annot stop this trend, it had been foretold by God, the only given is that God will take care of this sin in due time.
It seems like marriage is becoming obsolete and archaic. Hollywood is not just to blame, but I do believe they play a major part in promoting this sinful way of living. They literally flaunt it with all the out of wedlock births.
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are a perfect example, sadly, they had asked their children if they should marry and their kids response, was “no.” Why? Because they believe if their parents married it would be the end of their parents relationship.
Marriage is a committment and it should be kept sacred. It does take a lot of work and time and effort, it is not easy. And the laws should not accomodate those who do not want to make the committment.
I, as a flawed human being, am in no position to decide if your way of life is better than mine, or mine is better than yours. And I say this as a married father of five children, three of whom are grown.
If I were to go purely by statstics, I might get the idea that the “decadent” countries of Europe are living the “right” way-fewer murders, far less STD transmissions, far fewer teenaged pregnancies.
Marriage, in and of itself, cannot be seen as any kind of a bellwether of the health of a society-statistics (not to mention Britney Spears) bear this out.
You are perfectly right, Leticia. But the world does not look at it this way, and we are in minority. When my mother was young it was unthinkable to get a divorce, and only 50 years later it is almost unthinkable to get married as a virgin, and divorce is just another popular solution to the problems arising between two people. Moreover, the very notion of marriage is tried against homosexual relationships. Anything goes, it seems.
Sacred is not a word that people care about. Nobody wants to work hard anymore… And very often, when one partner does, the other one does not, which makes it very questionable indeed…
JollyRoger, I can understand your reasoning, but it is flawed. If I were to take your statemtent, “Since I’m flawed, I can’t judge you” then we should have anarchy. If there are no standards, no best practices, then whatever anyone wants to do should be done.
You make the point about the statistics siding with the Europeans as far as infections and teenage pregnancies. Do your statistics also the percentage of people married in Europe?
Further, I think we both have a common target. I’m pointing at the American culture and saying that, as it frees itself from morings that morals give it, it can expect more social problems. So, in that we agree.
In any case, statistics have proven that the best environment for children is a home with both of their parents in it– a stable home. They’ve gone so far to say that it’s better for kids to be in a home where the couple fight than it is for them to be in a single parent’s home.
Biblically, there’s no question. The Bible says that it’s until death that the couple should part, and that people should remain pure until marriage.
It is interesting because people think living together is a good “sign” or “test” if the marriage will work. In actuality, it is not the same at all. When you are just living together, there is no legal commitment. If things aren’t going well, it is easy to just get up and leave. In marriage, there are divorce laws and it is just not that easy. I lived with my husband for 1 year before we got married. My parents were not happy but they understood…I was graduating from law school, didn’t have a job yet, and my current living situation was not working out, but I could not afford to live on my own. It worked for us, but I would not recommend it to our two daughters!! By the way, Rebecca sent me over!
That’s an interesting comment you had at the end– I can remember something that I either heard or read where the speaker said that his desire for his children not to do something was enough to keep him from doing things he shouldn’t.
Thanks for the comment!
Another reason for the increase of non-marrieds living together is that they’ve perhaps tried marriage, failed at it and don’t want to go that route again. They think they’re getting the perks of marriage without the stresses, but they’re wrong. It will catch up with them.
You’re definitely right, Mary. Our pastor had an interesting aside this past Sunday where he talked about a couple he knew that lived together for 15 years before deciding to get married. At that point, what was the point? I mean, I’m glad that they got it right, but when you’ve been rebellious for so long it almost doesn’t make sense to go back and fix it.
And how many of them say “we’re married before God”…um…does that make it easier to split up later? Or is that just so you can feel that your marital-like relationship is sanctified?
Just another cop-out.