Many parents have heard the statistics that couples marrying today have a 40 to 50 percent risk of divorcing. This is not good news and often sways a parent to think that it would be better for their children to just live together rather than to get married. Their rationale is that if you don’t marry, you can’t divorce. We have to take a closer look at the stats to see the real story.
Substantial research shows that cohabitation before marriage is the leading reason for divorce. In fact, if a couple cohabits first, their divorce risk is 50 percent to 80 percent greater than for married couples who did not cohabitate first. In addition, “trial marriages” are associated with negative relationship consequences such as poor communication, conflict avoidance, financial instability, insecurity, increased resentment and manipulation.
The experts tell us that the main reason cohabitation usually results in a broken heart and damaged spirit is a lack of a permanent commitment. The fastest way to sandbag a relationship is to withhold a promise to be there through the good times and the bad.
If parents want their children to avoid these harmful outcomes, they should guide their children towards marriage using any of the following:
- Make their own marriage a living witness to the beauty of God’s plan for love and life.
- Voice disapproval when media showcase irregular situations as normal and healthy.
- Set family standards on dating and relationships that encourage friendship and chastity.
- Pray regularly as a family for the future “in-laws” that will join the clan someday.
By Alice Heinzen, Director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life