Living Together Increases Chance of Divorce

Last night Lori and I were ware watching the most recent episode of NBC’s Chuck. Chuck has a new girlfriend… and apparently they’re already sleeping together.

This is the norm on TV today. The sad reality is, while these TV messages are continuing to preach, “This is the smart thing to do!” …research shows quite the opposite.

A few days ago the New York Times featured an article, Study Finds Cohabiting Doesn’t Make a Union Last. Here’s just a snippit:

Couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married, a new study has found. But their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began living together.

The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found.

The study of men and women ages 15 to 44 was done by the National Center for Health Statistics using data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted in 2002. The authors define cohabitation as people who live with a sexual partner of the opposite sex.

“From the perspective of many young adults, marrying without living together first seems quite foolish,” said Prof. Pamela J. Smock, a research professor at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Just because some academic studies have shown that living together may increase the chance of divorce somewhat, young adults themselves don’t believe that.”

The authors found that the proportion of women in their late 30s who had ever cohabited had doubled in 15 years, to 61 percent.

The article goes on to discuss the chances of marriages lasting for couples who are college graduates, couples who marry after age 26, couples who have a baby soon, etc.

TV says, “If it feels right, do it.” Studies like the one above give a clearer glimpse at the truth. So what are our kids going to believe? In a world where kids age 8-18 years old average 4 hours and 29 minutes of television programming each and every day… what message do you think they’re going to hear?

Well… not to inundate you with articles, but this Washington Post article says it pretty clearly even with the title of the article, TV shows spur earlier sex for kids. The article contends, “According to the study, 6- to 8-year-old children who watch prime-time, network television shows with adult content are more likely to have sex when they’re 12 to 14 years old than 6- to 8-year-olds who do not see those shows.” David’s current Youth Culture Window article on our web site, The Lure of the Glowing Screen, covers this thoroughly. David really emphasizes the fact that parents can make a difference by setting screen limits and boundaries.

Sadly, some of the kids that need these boundaries, are the ones with terrible relationships with their parents to begin with. This article citing a brand new report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reveals that “teens who spend more time watching television or using computers appear to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers.”

Notice a pattern here?

Parents and caring adults need to talk about these issues with their students. We can’t just leave the TV on and hope all is well. We can’t assume that one week of “sex ed” at school is going to set our kids straight. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy did a recent online survey asking guys questions about sex, love, contraception and relationships. In that survey, they found that guys are just as likely to say that pornography influences their attitudes and decisions about sex as they are to cite sex education.

Hmmmm.

These same guys said they’d rather have sex with someone who is “super hot” than with someone who is “smart and funny.” But 78% would rather be in a relationship with someone who is smart and funny than someone who is super hot. (Interesting survey- you can check out the whole thing here.)

Don’t give up. Caring adults need to constantly dialogue with our kids about these issues.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Living Together Increases Chance of Divorce

  1. Greg says:

    Love the post. Thought you (and your readers) might enjoy the info on http://www.chastity.com (specifically the Q&A section). It’s an absolute gold mine!

    Here are just two good links to questions associated with cohabitation from that site:
    http://www.chastity.com/chastity-qa/dating/shacking-up/why-are-divorce-rates-so-high
    http://www.chastity.com/node/204