The Destructive Nature of Cohabitation
Brandon Wade Stone
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Foundations English 201
December 9, 2013
This essay is a declaration of how cohabitation is destroying the family unit. In our society the destruction of the family is a very evident part of modern living. In these days, people take good to be bad and bad to be good. The desensitization of man’s morals are giving way to lustful desires and a great lack of commitment. When those feelings are present in specific societal unions, unhappiness and resentment will always follow. Marriage is essential to lifelong happiness and will bring joy if the two commit to be unified together through a covenant. When no bond is present, one simply thinks that there is no obligation to stay. This attitude is a falsity. Cohabitation is a devastating factor in peoples’ lives because it desecrates the concept of marriage, and it leads to the destruction of the family.
The Destructive Nature of Cohabitation
In recent years, it has become extraordinarily obvious that the disintegration of the family is becoming more prevalent on a day-to day-basis. The joys of life are blockaded as all nations cease to teach correct moral principles, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those principles are essential in our separate communities, which allow our society to become unified in public virtue. If this unity is not present in our neighborhoods, then we, as individuals, are more prone to choose a path in life that ultimately leads to unhappiness. When accurate values are clarified, especially in the family unit, we can know with a surety that we will find strength in doing what is right. One trend that is giving way to more and more sorrow today is a vacuum that is relentlessly sucking many people into its grasp. Cohabitation is the culprit. Marriage and family becomes artificial when people live together by not giving themselves fully to their partner, in allowing leeway for communication to be corrupted, in offering away personal virtue before a commitment is made, and for being an example of teaching filth to future generations. This ultimate predicament breeds a dismal picture for the soon-to-be family.
In years that have come and gone, the number of people that have given themselves fully to their companions has dropped drastically. In a recent study that was performed by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, we learn that, “the percentage of women ages 19-44 who have ever cohabited has increased by 75% over the past 20 years. In 1987, one-third of women had ever cohabited, and in 2006-2008, over half (58%) had ever cohabited” (Manning, 2010, para. 2). With that in mind we can understand the evidences of the day that teach us that our generation is rapidly changing. For many years the mindset of creating a family meant that one would date, court, propose, then marry. Now the common practice is to take tradition and throw it out of the proverbial window. For much of today’s society, the value of a test drive is the way to take a relationship “head on.” For several individuals, the feelings of pleasure and instant gratification are the grounds by which joy and happiness breed. To the general populous of the world, those feelings bring the same satisfactions that marriage does. Everyday people all over the world are trying to define the correct concept of what marriage is and why it is even important. Some agree that living together is a form of marriage and is perfectly fine because no matter how you obtain the individual companionship, in the end, everything will ultimately work out. Others judge that when it comes to obtaining a partnership, there is absolutely no need for a marriage because all it does is bind you down and yoke you to an obligation that might not even work out in the end. As quoted in an article titled “Cohabitation May Not Be Harmful to Parenting,” the author declares: “Just as so many of us have learned to make marriages work without the support of a religious community, we can probably manage partnerships without a wedding” (Sandler, 2013, p. 137). Along those same lines, Solot and Miller (2006) came to an equal conclusion that “living together is a logical way to experience a relationship without making a lifelong commitment” (p. 78). In recognizing those points of view, many think that it is easier to just live with someone and not be committed to the relationship, and be able to leave whenever one feels the need to. Even though those things may be true for some, the feelings of instant gratification will only last for a second and then heartache will prevail. Through research on this topic it has been found that living together is not a great idea after all. According to the author of Cohabitation Increases the Risk of Divorce we learn that “couples who choose to live together may begin their cohabiting relationships too quickly and with a weaker sense of commitment than married couples do” (Staal, 2006, p. 85). Over years, many peoples’ perceptions of practicality have been skewed in relating back to what real happiness is. True happiness does not just come through a thoughtless act, but a true lifelong commitment. Morals are not something that surrender to public opinion, nor do they allow for man to judge what is right or wrong in a society. Laws governing this earth are decreed on strict adherence to such morals. No matter what choice we make in this life, there will undoubtedly be a consequence that follows, either good or bad. If commitment in a marriage or giving oneself totally to a spouse is neglected in any small degree, then the nature of marriage will be desecrated and family unity will be on the brink of destruction.
The giving of oneself fully in today’s society is a concept that is diminishing rapidly. The decay in society is nonetheless harmful, but unavoidably getting worse. It is sad to note that peoples’ understandings of the way true happiness should spawn is not the way that it always does. The key to overcoming such pit falls in life is relying on the genuine concept of communication.
Communication is key when it comes to relating to happiness in a man and woman’s life. One of the saddest tragedies that is seen, in the grand scheme of cohabitation, is the lack of openness between the man and woman. It is essential that we talk about important ethics, so that both people will understand each others’ desires and grasp the expectations of the other person. In the process of talking things out, instead of being fools that rush in, the man and woman are able to comprehend the needs and necessities of the other person, and in due time, those needs will be met. Over millennia the lessons of life have given understanding to what we should do to have happy marriages. When we look at the Bible, one of the greatest historical records of all time, we can see that the lack of understanding between people in a society leads those to destruction. A great example of that would be David and Bathsheba. David coveted in his heart to have her. She was married, but he did everything in his power to make sure that she became his wife. In the end, the decision he made was one that he regretted for the rest of his life. We can open the book of Psalms and read his dictations and see how his heart wrenched for the mistake that he had made. When we understand this story in the context of communication, we would be smart to realize that those feelings of self-despair and lifelong unhappiness could have been halted by a simple love of the person, and modest communication between the two. In that moment of time, he was that fool that rushed in and didn’t allow for common sense to take effect. His compulsive desires were to coax her to lay with him. She knew that she was married, and so did he. The communication was not evident, neither were the brains. On the other hand when two are able to come together and talk things out, then both sides begin to realize each other’s desires. In the book titled Marriage and Family: A Quest for Intimacy, it states that “effective communication is essential to a successful relationship, but it doesn’t seem to come naturally or easily. It takes determination and effort. Effective communication requires commitment and hard work for the duration of the relationship” (Lauer & Lauer, 2012, p. 211). If we put to action our thoughts and work towards having a happy life, then we will notice the decisions and actions we will need to take to accomplish our ultimate goals. In the book titled Covenant Hearts, the author declares boldly a basic statement of life that, if applied, will bring a greater self-fulfillment to those searching for a companionship. He states,
Still while marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person . . . if both are willing to pay the price. (Hafen, 2005)
So what is the price that needs to be paid? As declared by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we learn that “successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (First Presidency, 1995, para. 7). The fundamental principles that we obtain as we follow these words will cause within us great desires to become one with our companion, and life as we know it will tailor satisfaction as the end result. It seems that in all things, to have any such attributes toward another person we need to know where they stand, and communicate expectations between each other often, that is where joy is found.
Communication is important. It is the channel by which we can understand the other person. When taking this into consideration, it is great to know where the other person stands both morally and ethically. In communicating and coming to know of another’s goals, we can realize if they are in the association for the long run, or if this is a chance to offer away personal virtue.
So what is the problem in giving away our personal virtue before a commitment is made? What is the problem in living such a life that fulfills our indulgences? In the minds of nearly everyone on this earth, sex is the main goal for all to achieve. It is a way to release and get rid of stress. It is the means by which gratifications are fulfilled, and life is lived to the fullness. So why not live with someone that will fulfill those desires before marriage? When pondering about this subject, research from a national survey comes to mind. In evaluating families and households on why people do and do not cohabit, we learn that cohabiting is good because it comes with a better sex life than dating, and it does not require as much sexual faithfulness as marriage (Stern, 1987). Those points are all "fine and dandy" in their eyes, but--in the grand scheme of things--the claim that they propose is soiled. There is no logical proof or credibility to their argument. Why would any person on the face of this earth want to treat another person, especially one that you “love,” as a rag doll? That is not love; that is lust--lust in its fullness. People are not sex toys that one can pervert in a time of need. They are living, breathing human beings who have consciences. Some may say, “Well that’s not the reasoning behind why I want sex. I want it so that I can build a strong relationship with another person.” If that is the case, get married. Take upon yourself the commitment and make it legitimate. Also, relationships are not affiliations that are solely caught up in physical gratification. They are the means by which love is to be exemplified. In them, we show our care to the other person, and their physical and emotional health. In a study performed in 2000, we learn that after cohabitation has been performed, “Annual rates of depression among cohabiting couples are more than three times what they are among married couples” (as cited in Fitzgibbons, 2011, para. 11). With that, we also come to know that “women cohabiting relationships are more likely to suffer physical and sexual abuse than married women” (as cited in Fitzgibbons, 2011, para. 12). So in truth, is that really true love? Would you rather shoot yourself in the foot by allowing morals to decline, or would you rather take into consideration virtue and not go through the emotional and ethical roller coaster at a latter time? In recent research, we have come to a consensus that all the evidence that has been found dealing with living together points in the unanimous direction of unhappiness, and the final result of personal ills that present themselves in the lives of those that condone the actions. In a study presented by a professor of sociology, Larry Bumpass, Ph.D., declared candidly that “the generally accepted wisdom--that living together helps determine whether the relationship is meant to be--may be erroneous. In fact, numerous studies have shown the opposite to be true” (as cited in Staal, 2006, p. 87). He then went on to mention that “divorce is higher--about 50 percent higher--among those who live together before marriage” (p. 87). One may say that virtue has no real purpose in why two cohabit, but honestly, the true reality is that sex is one of the main reasons why two begin their cohabiting relationship in the first place. If many were willing to listen, allowing wisdom to enlighten their minds, then sorrow--in its fullness--could be halted. Take the smart way out and use common sense to realize that the instant decision you make to demoralize yourself could lead to harsh consequences in the future. When common sense is used to give efficacy to peoples’ thoughts and actions, especially in the deep decisions of companionship, then eminently personal virtue will be on the top their minds, and more logical decisions will be made.
As personal virtue is taken into consideration, and is thought about with logic and morals in mind, then we can feel confident in teaching our children about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If that is not the case, then teaching is going to be more difficult and many important realities may be taken in the wrong context.
Joy and prosperity will ultimately come when the concept of teaching is exemplified in the family unit. One of the harshest misconceptions is the thought in cohabiting couples’ minds that their actions only affect themselves; it is selfish to believe in such a lie. Our examples as parents and leaders in our individual unions will shape the very lives of every member of our families. As mothers and fathers, or soon to be parents, we need to make it a goal to understand how much of an impact the choices we make now will determine the ways that our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren will live their lives. In an article titled “Marriage Should Unite one man and one Woman,” the author presents us with some very bold statistics when he says,
An overwhelming body of social science data has established that America’s greatest social problems--violent crime, welfare dependency, and child poverty--track more closely with family disintegration than they do with any other social variable, including race and income level. (2006, p.98)
That figure is astounding. Immoral and unethical principles, no matter how insignificant we think they may be, tend to demoralize and destroy the very fabric of society. In relating to this subject, Susan Brown, a woman who wrote an article in the journal of marriages declares that “children in two-biological-parent cohabiting families and cohabiting stepfamilies exhibit significantly more behavioral and emotional problems than children living with two biological married parents” (Brown, 2004, para. 29). When all is said and done, the most important teaching experiences that will ever produce an impact on the future of the world will be within the walls of our homes. The choices that each family member makes, determines the way that civilizations turn out. In an article titled “Cohabitation is a Viable Lifestyle Choice,” we learn that
In California, Amy Lesen’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her father went on to have a 20-year-and- counting relationship without being married. Today, Amy says she does not want to marry her partner… “I think that it drove a point home to me that [marriage] does not really matter,” she said. (Solot & Miller, 2006, p. 78)
In all reality, her point of view sounds logical, but it could not be farther from the truth. Her mind is so much caught up in herself and her own well being that she is not thinking about her family/ future family. Families are what build communities, communities are what build neighborhoods, neighborhoods are what build states, and it replicates over and over until nations and the whole population of the world is created. If we applied the lessons that she learned to every family of the earth, then the families of the world would be desecrated. Taking into consideration all of the research that has been performed on this subject of cohabitation, the end result would be disastrous. It is true that families are the most important society on the face of the whole earth. If there is any desire left in the hearts of men to keep public virtue and individual sanity in place, then correct morals are a necessity and cannot be waived or become a thing of naught. “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony. They are to be reared by a mother and father who honor marital vows with complete fidelity” (First Presidency, 1995, para. 7). There should never be a time that a mother or father should neglect their responsibilities. As parents we teach by example.
In declaring these realities, there is an increased need for men and women on this earth to take the incentive to give themselves in marriage before they think about going the distance of living together or having children. The reason for such a statement is so they do not cheat themselves of a prosperous and productive life, a life that is filled with love toward the other sex, future or current children, and many, many generations for years to come. Also, in considering these people, this assertion is expounded so, morally, many can recognize the importance of giving their all, and not just increments of themselves. Their trust in each other will be built upon a more firm foundation, especially as communication is exemplified. Their lives, and many other lives will be blessed, because, through it, they will recognize the importance of virtue and how true marriages and families are built upon the grounds of morals in society. And lastly, they will feel the need to be an example to their posterities so emotional and behavioral problems will not arise, but that lives will be lived in celestial splendor. In conclusion, there is a better way to live than with a member of the opposite sex before marriage. The better way is caring enough for the other person in such a way that one would not want any destructive thing to happen to him or her. As a society, we need to remember that love will set us free from unhappiness and that cohabitation will only put us in the bondage that no person wants.
Alliance for Marriage (2006). Marriage Should Unite One Man and One Woman. In M.E. Williams (Ed.), SEX (p. 98). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven.
Brown, S. L. (2004). Family structure and child well‐being: The significance of parental cohabitation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(2), 351-367.
Fitzgibbons, R. P. (2011). The risks of cohabitation. Marital Healing. Retrieved from http://www.maritalhealing.com/conflicts/risksofcohabitation.php
Hafen, B. C. (2005). Covenant hearts: Marriage and the joy of human love. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book.
Lauer, R. H., & Lauer, J. C. (2012). Marriage and family: The quest for intimacy. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Manning,W. D. (2010). Trends in cohabitation: Twenty years of change, 1987-2008. National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Retrieved from http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/pdf/family_profiles/file87411.pdf
Presidency, F. Council of Twelve Apostles (1995), The family: A proclamation to the world. Retrieved from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website: https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
Sandler, L. (2013). Cohabitation May Not Be Harmful to Parenting. In R. Espejo, (Ed.), Parenting (p.137). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Solot, D., & Miller, M. (2006). Cohabitation Is a Viable Lifestyle Choice. In M. E. Williams (Ed.), SEX (p. 78). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven.
Staal, S. (2006). Cohabitation Increases the Risk of Divorce. In M. E. Williams (Ed.), SEX (p.87). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven.
Stern, S. (1987). National Surveys of Families and Households on Why People Cohabit and do not cohabit. Website Name Goes Here. Retrieved from http://people.virginia.edu/~sns5r/ resint/ structstf/nsfhfiles/nsfh.html