I was watching the TODAY show this morning and they had a piece on the rise in couples who choose to live together and have children together prior to getting married. Here’s one statistic they shared in the report: “Marriage rates are at their lowest point in half a century and the number of cohabitating couples is way up to 7.5 million in 2010. Statistics show unmarried couples that live together are staying together longer than in the past. After three years, 32% were still living together and still unmarried and in many cases, like the Jolie Pitt clan, having children.”
The reporter went on to say this, “It does not surprise me at all that couples are choosing to cohabitat instead of get married. It’s much less intimidating to sign a lease than marriage papers. Couples want what is permanent. A baby is permanent. a relationship, not so much.”
One of the guest hosts of the show that day lives with his girlfriend and they have children together. They brought on an expert in relationships who said she was not concerned with the rise in cohabitation. Her response was this: “I think people want to be committed to one another and they’ll do it. Just in time.”
I know divorce is a scary and painful thing and many people who are now old enough to marry grew up in a time when a high percentage of parents didn’t stay together. Cohabitation is not a new thing and I think it happens in part because couples don’t want to see their relationship end in divorce. Rather than go through that painful process, couples chose to simply live together.
What stood out to me was the general acceptance (at least of those on the show this morning) of those who choose to live together. It seems that the fear of divorce is enough to justify living together and having children apart from marriage. If you look at the statistic shared in the report, only 1/3 of cohabitating couples are still together have three years. It would be interesting to see what happens to that percentage as the years increase.
I think it also shows that people want what God has placed in our hearts – the desire to be loved and to be known. Way back in the book of Genesis, Adam had everything he needed except a “suitable helper.” So, God gave him Eve.
While I know there are various reasons people chose cohabitation over living together, I think this report shows the value of marriage and how important, fulfilling and sometimes difficult that relationship can be. People want relationships to stick. They want their partner to stay.
One of the hosts this morning said, “The end game is sticking together.” That was God’s original design, to stick together. Our culture is reflecting God’s intent – to stick together. As we commit to His way, with His help, we can stick and stay.