For years the assumption has been that cohabitation increased the chance that you and your spouse would get divorced. While this assumption has not been completely discredited, a new study by the Council on Contemporary Families on cohabitation argues that the age of the couple when they cohabitate may actually be the greatest indicator for the likelihood for divorce. In fact, researchers now argue the studies which linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable.
According to Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, analyzing the age of the couple who are cohabitating is a much better predictor for divorce than whether or not the couple lived together before marriage.
Kuperburg and her colleagues found that couples who lived together before a marriage were often much younger than other couples. After the researchers controlled for the age variable in cohabitation, they determined that premarital cohabitation became less important when predicting the longevity of the marriage. In fact, those who lived together or who married before the age of 23 were the most likely to later split.
Marriage takes maturity regardless of cohabitation
Anyone who has been married can attest to the effort it takes to have a successful marriage. Today, picking the right partner, especially before you have become a grown adult yourself, is even more difficult.
Experts also postulate that recent marital expectations and ill-defined roles have made marriage more difficult. Where once partners stepped into what researchers call “well-defined gender roles” now couples have to negotiate their own “independent aspirations and much greater ideas of equality.” Think of it this way: greater expectations can often lead to greater disappointments.
So while we may discover that cohabitation plays less of a role in divorce than we once thought and maybe a successful marriage may depend more on the maturity of each participating partner, the divorce statistics remain startling regardless of the reason. For instance, according to a recent report by Yahoo News, “Over the past 50 years, the number of couples who live together before marriage has increased some 900 percent.” And now we also have a divorce rate over 50%.
So whether its age, cohabitation, financial or educational factors or how long couples been romantically involved, Americans continue to lack the ability to form life-long commitments and the ensuing chaos is destroying our kids.
Divorce and Family Chaos
What does divorce do to children? Divorce increases the chance your children will smoke, increases the chance they will be prescribed Ritalin, will have poor math and social skills, increased susceptibility to sickness, increased drop-out rate, an increased propensity to commit crime, a higher chance of getting divorce, and have a lower life expectancy.
Children need stability and a well-functioning home. Who cares why the divorce rate is so high, it’s time to stop the insanity. And it looks like some of the experts might have gotten something else wrong – maybe kids do need a dad.
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