The Lack Of Commitment Between Cohabiting Parents Has Drastic Consequences For Children

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   10/12/2011

Recently an unmarried couple requested a family pass to a Minnesota YMCA. The couple was denied.

The man appeared upset. He could get an individual pass, they were told, and the woman and her kids could get a family pass. But since they were unmarried, they would not all fall under the family pass.

Was this unfair? Is the YMCA making a mistake to draw such uncultural guidelines? Or are they encouraging a better environment for the family?

Cohabitation is defined (by as the state or condition of living together as husband and wife without being married. It seems to be a rising concern regarding the welfare of the family in the U.S.A. In fact, today children are twice as likely to live under cohabitating parents than they are to experience divorcing parents, according to a report on

Perhaps cohabitation has just come alongside other nontraditional ways of doing family. Since 1970, the number of children born out of wedlock has risen from 10 percent to just over 40 percent. And during my last visit to the delivery room in 2009, our nurse said they deliver more babies to unwed couples than to married couples in their hospital.

This proliferation of the untraditional family has made some (even in the church) accustomed to cohabitation as a "new" and "okay" way of living. It's economical and efficient. So, what's wrong with it?

  1. Children raised under cohabitating couples are three times more likely to experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. They are also at a higher risk for behavioral problems, health issues and school failure, according to the Heritage report.
  2. Cohabitating couples create an unstable home. There's no firm commitment between "mom" and "dad." Couples with children who cohabitate are 170 percent more likely to break up than married couples.
  3. Cohabitation compromises purity. The temptation increases to engage in sexual relations when couples live together.
  4. Even if cohabitating couples are able to remain sexually pure, by living together they are dissolving the power of their testimony. 1 Peter 3 describes the importance of living rightly so that "those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

The first line of defense against cohabitation for a Christian is to understand God's design of marriage and His persistence for purity. To those who are not saved, we can point out the grave statistics for those who choose to cohabitate-- the stats on children stated above and the drastically higher rate of divorce for cohabitating couples who later decide to marry.

Surprisingly, the Heritage group actually says that children are better off if raised by a single parent than if raised by cohabitating couples. A single-parent home may provide more stability than a move-in and move-out cohabitating partner.

The couple who stopped in at the YMCA likely wasn't aware of the impact their decisions were making on the little ones under their roof. What could help them choose marriage and choose it wisely?

In earnestness to support marriage in our culture, the Heritage Foundation has offered a few suggestions to make federal policies more marriage-friendly. They include:

  • Block the Obama Restoration of the Marriage Penalty in the Tax Code: "The tax cuts that expire at the end of 2010 include marriage penalty relief that has been in place for a decade. The Joint Tax Committee estimates that 35 million couples will pay an average of $595 more in taxes in 2011 alone if marriage penalty relief is not extended."
  • Repeal New Marriage Penalties Included in Obama-care: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for the purchase of health insurance, but the configuration of these credits imposes new marriage penalties that could exceed $10,000 a year for certain couples. These penalties provide another strong reason for the repeal of Obamacare and the enactment of real reform."
  • End the Welfare Marriage Penalty: "Current means-tested welfare programs penalize low-income recipients who choose to marry. These anti-marriage penalties should be reduced or eliminated."
  • Fund an Advertising Campaign to Promote the Benefits of Marriage: "Programs like the 'healthy marriage initiative' in the Department of Health and Human Services stressed the long-term benefits of marriage for child outcomes and encouraged low-income couples at risk of government dependency to marry and stay married. Funding for such programs should be increased and not diluted with separate job training and similar initiatives. Messaging about marriage, including public service advertising, should provide information on the importance of marriage to individuals in communities who have a high risk of having children out of wedlock, with emphasis on the benefits to children of a married mother and father."

If any of these suggestions sound plausible to you, contact your legislators and let them know. It's imperative that marriage be protected- both before the ceremony and after.

For more information, check out this new book just released last month

 The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage.

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