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Does "living together" really help you get ready for marriage?

The evidence is clear:  "living together" is no way to prepare for marriage.  For a long time, we told ourselves that living together was a great way to "practice" for the day-to-day life of a husband and wife.  However, now we know the opposite is true:  living together actually increases the chances for divorce.  Why?  That part is still unclear, although many people believe that cohabiting sets the stage for "Well, if this doesn't work, I'll just leave."  After all, walking out on a "living partner" is a lot easier than divorce.

When I attended the Acton Institute last month, I had the great pleasure of listening to and talking with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder of the Ruth Institute, which promotes happy, traditional marriage.  In a recent email, she talks about even more problems with "living together":

Women (aged 14-44) who grew up in married intact families and who now worship weekly are the least likely to have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 2.8 percent of women who grew up in intact married families and worship at least weekly have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime, followed by women who grew up in other family structures and worship at least weekly (6.7 percent), those who grew up in intact married families who never worship (8.5 percent), and those who grew up in other family structures and never worship (17.1 percent).

Examining the rate of cohabitation by structure of family of origin, 5.6 percent of women who grew up in intact married families have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime, followed by women who grew up in intact cohabiting families (11.1 percent), those from single divorced parent families (11.6 percent), married stepfamilies (12 percent), cohabiting stepfamilies (12.9 percent), and always single parent families (13.5 percent). Overall, women raised in intact married families are only half as likely to have had two or more lifetime cohabitations as those from all other structures.

Clearly, the sins of fathers and mothers get visited upon the next generation (and the next, and the next.....)  The best gift we can give our children?  A happy,  healthy, lifelong marriage.


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