Divorce and cohabitation – what could they have in common? And how could anyone reduce the reasons for such complex things as divorce and cohabitation to just two sources? The answers are simpler than you think, and statistically they are staring you the face.
Look up any government or private surveys or stats on marriage, and while there may be many differences, they all agree that divorces rates are high, and so are cohabitation rates.
Divorces rates reached their peak in the 1980’s, and then declined a bit after that but they still hover around 50%. The dirty little secret is, the only reason divorce rates in the United States stabilized around 50% is because since the 1980’s cohabitation in the United States has dramatically increased.
“Three of four women in the U.S. have lived with a partner without being married by the age of 30, an increasing trend that suggests cohabitation is now a regular part of family life in the U.S., researchers said.”
“The United States currently is witnessing a dramatic rise in the percentage of couples whose first union is not a marriage but cohabitation, a new federal government report confirms…
The report shows that while cohabiting couples often marry at some point, cohabitations frequently dissolve within five years or much less time. “Cohabitations typically are short-lived,” the report observes, though it stresses that cohabitations last somewhat longer now than 10 years ago.”
The reasons typically stated for high divorce and cohabitation in the United States
Many articles online and elsewhere will try and give various reasons for high divorce rates and high cohabitation rates. Often times high cohabitation rates are attributed to more economical reasons. Couples simple cannot afford to marry, or least no marriage before the age of 30.
Adultery and abuse account for only 10 to 20% of the reasons for divorce, while 80 to 90 percent of divorces today are for other reasons. Most divorces occur because of couples fighting over money or career issues, how to raise children, lack of intimacy and not spending time together.
The real 2 reasons for high cohabitation and divorce rates in the United States
The first reason that couples in the United States are increasing living together out of marriage, or married couples are divorcing at higher rates is because of one word – CHOICE.
I love freedom. Our American forefathers loved freedom. But the freedom they originally gave our new nation, enshrined in our original Constitution and Bill of Rights, was a limited freedom. It was difficult to divorce, and it was practically impossible to cohabitate in America as it was founded.
I love the freedom with which America was originally founded, not the perverted freedom (anarchy) that we have today.
Yes people still fornicated, as they always have since the beginning of mankind. But it was considered a shame, and it was kept secret, and the consequences could be dire to both parties if discovered.
It was rare for men to divorce their wives, and most women were never able to leave their husbands because of property laws and the fact if a woman divorced her husband, she would leave her children and everything behind.
CHOICE – People had no choice but to marry, and stay married, up until the mid-19th century with the rise of Feminism which then gave birth to the sexual revolution of the 1960’s.
The second reason we have such high divorce and cohabitation rates in the United States is actually the source for the first reason, the SECULARIZATION of our culture. We have given people the choice to cohabitate and divorce because we have left what used to form the basis for our moral values, and that was the Bible. Since we have no moral foundation, anything goes.
The nation of Israel in the Bible went through times like we see today when “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25(KJV)
Our founding fathers fought for religious liberty, not for removal of all religious influence on society.
“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”
(Source: Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1799), p. 9.)
It is no coincidence that as church attendance has declined in this country over the last century that divorce and cohabitation have spiked. We give people a choice to cohabitate and divorce because we have no moral center anymore – we can do whatever we want.
A man can go and impregnate as many women outside of marriage as he so chooses, as long as he pays the child support. Or if he is smart and uses a condom, he can sleep around with as many women as he wants with no worries, and no judgment from our society.
Women routinely place their education, careers and hobbies above the most important functions for which they were designed – being a wives and mothers. Because of modern birth control, women can freely sleep with as many men as they want as they pursue money and pleasure.
People are not cohabiting together because of economic reasons – the real reason is because we as a society have given people the CHOICE to live together outside of marriage.
Couples are not divorcing because of lack of intimacy, lack of romance, or disagreements over raising children or careers, the real reason people are divorcing is because we have given them a CHOICE to divorce for ANY reason(there are Biblical reasons for divorce, but they are few).
The reason we give people a CHOICE today to cohabitate and easily divorce is because we have allowed our nation to become SECULARIZED, we have pushed God completely out of our cultural and legislative institutions, and in our churches Pastors have so watered down the Word of God (because of fear of offending people or bucking cultural changes) that people no longer know right from wrong.
What can we do about this?
There is no question today that there has been a culture war going on within the United States for well over 100 years. There has been a war over what “freedom” means. Some choices that we used to have, that our nation was originally founded with, have been take away. Other choices that our founders never intended for us to have, and would have been considered immoral, have been granted and given the full protection of our local, state and Federal governments.
Some have fought for an idea of freedom that protects behavior that previous generations would have never have allowed. These same groups that have fought for these new found freedoms to commit immoral behavior, have in turn fought to restrict the freedoms that our for fathers originally fought for, especially in being able to publically call out immoral behavior exactly for what it is.
As individuals, it may seem that there is little we can do to change our culture back to the Godly culture it once was. What we can do is take responsibility for ourselves and our families. Men need to take a stand and teach their wives and children’s God’s Word. Then as we take back our families and marriages for Christ, we can then turn to taking back our Churches and encouraging our Pastors to preach the whole counsel of God, not just what they think will be politically correct.
Once our Churches and church leaders have been emboldened to stand for God, we can then begin taking back our neighborhoods, towns and eventually our State and Federal Government for Christ.
We used to have a government and culture that believed in freedom, but it was a freedom that was limited within the boundaries of a Biblical Christian worldview.
CHOICE is both the problem WITH and solution TO America’s cultural decline. We have to choose to follow a Biblical world view, no matter how socially or politically incorrect it may be. We need to influence our culture to remove the CHOICE to commit immoral behavior. But in order to do that, we need to agree on what immoral behavior is, and the only we can do that is by returning to a Biblical foundation as our standard for moral or immoral behavior.
2 thoughts on “The 2 REAL reasons divorce and cohabitation rates are so high”
Great read! I also would like to add, from studying the issue myself, for divorce is, in my opinion, the unwillingness to try. Many people go into a marriage and say well, we will try it, and those don’t work. The lack of patience in a world of wanting everything right now, the loss of values regarding marriage and family, not educating themselves on how to be married, have kids etc, and frankly laziness. As far of cohabiting, I think I may be fear base. Its a easy way to trial run things before making a commitment. They want the pleasures of living together without the scare of what if it doesn’t work out, but perfect love casts out fear. Fear holds a lot of people back from risking and making commitments. Above all it is a choice, just wanting to share my thoughts.
Interesting article. I wrote on the cohabitation issue in the US (and currently in all Western countries) earlier and arrived at somewhat different conclusions. Cohabitators are reluctant to marry (and delay marriage), and are more likely to divorce as they are risk averse individuals. They do fine for a while after eventually marrying their partner, but when they encounter rough times in the marriage they opt out quickly. These individuals do not like to sacrifice much for the success of a marriage.
You are correct that society has accepted divorce – it is socially acceptable – and that encourages the trivialization of divorce. Children suffer terribly when their parents divorce.
One of the things the sexual revolution has taught us is that women do have a sex drive, and they can be as promiscuous as men can be. It was, in times past, too taboo to discuss sex in a mature, healthy and rational manner, so there was some ignorance about women having a libido. The churches were too inhibited and too afraid to address sex in a healthy way prior to the 1960s and that is why they had no power of persuasion when it came to reining in the excesses we’ve seen since the 1960s. Christianity has been struggling with sex within marriage since the time of Augustine (died 430 AD). The churches ought to speak to the beauty of sexual love within marriage.
We could rework our educational system and have children go to school year round. This way they could be out of high school at age 16 and go on to a trade school or to college and be able to enter the work force at 20 or 21 and marry then. Delaying marriage by many years beyond this age has never worked well in any societies on the planet.
Here is my earlier essay that may be of interest to you.