Psychological Reasons Not to Live Together

from All About Cohabiting Before Marriage

"...there are spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological reasons why God
has limited sexual intercourse to the marriage bed. Some of those reasons are
beyond our understanding. We simply must believe that God Knows what is best for us."
- Alice Fryling

Those who are sexually active before marriage have greater behavioral problems. According to a study reported in Pediatrics, early sexual activity leads to serious behavioral problems. Of 1500 girls studied, nonvirgin girls were 2.5 times more likely to have used alcohol than virgins, 6.2 times more likely to have smoked marijuana, and 4.3 times more likely to have attempted suicide. Boys were seven times more likely to have been arrested or picked up by police. The Medical Tribune reports that "Sexual matters often predominate among the risk factors for adolescent depression and suicide." Again, some may argue that this is off the subject of cohabitation; first, because sex and living together are not synonymous and second that research studies on teens alone are quoted. As mentioned earlier, Webster's Dictionary does define cohabitation as "living together as or as if husband and wife." And, if cohabitants live together like "husband and wife," then having sex is a very reasonable expectation. Therefore, the assumption is made throughout this writing (granting some occasional exceptions) that cohabitants do have sexual relations. Further, teen problems give rise to continued or even greater problems in adulthood. And so, using studies referring to teen sexuality and concomitant problems also is appropriate.

Those living together often do so to "prove" their love to their partner.
The partner who demands sex as proof of love is flatly exploitative. He or she is looking out for number one at the other person's expense. How the other party feels about it is not his or her primary concern. There is an ego and physical desire to satisfy, and the other party will be used to fulfill it. Such a person can become a dominating tyrant who demands compliance and may even become abusive. These early patterns of behavior carry over into the marriage.

Those who live together before marriage abuse each other more often and more severely than dating couples or married couples.
Numerous studies have found that physical attacks are clearly much more common and more severe among live-in couples than among those who are married (e.g., Scott 1994:79; Jackson 1996 and others below). One reason suspected is that cohabitants live in isolation from the rest of their families. A study found that 40 percent of cohabiting women were forced to endure a kind of sex they disliked (Scott 1994:77). The U.S. Justice Department found that women are 62 times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband (Colson 1995). Those who cohabit in college have twice the rate of violence and twice the rate of physical abuse than in marriage (Johnson 1996). In a study at Northern State University published in Family Therapy, sociologists found, while researching college students, that "those males who had cohabited displayed the most accepting views of rape." Previous studies have found that men typically cohabit because of the "convenience"of the relationship, whereas women cohabit with "the expectation that cohabitation will lead to marriage" -- thus creating a relationship in which men are likely to "hold a position of power" over women who expect much more from the relationship than they do. This puts women who cohabit in a perilous position. Dr. Jan Stats of Washington State University, one of the most noted researchers on the issue of cohabitation found evidence (Stets 1991:670) "that aggression is at least twice as common among cohabitors as it is among married partners. During a one-year period, about 35 out of every 100 cohabiting couples have experienced physical aggression, compared to 15 out of every 100 married couples." She also found that "approximately 14 percent of those who cohabit admit to hitting, shoving, or throwing things at their partner during the past year, compared to 5 percent of married people (ibid. P.674). A recent study at Penn State University (Brown & Booth 1997) confirmed that cohabitors argue, shout and hit more than married couples. The Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire found after studying 2,143 adults that "cohabitors are much more violent than marrieds (Yllo and Straus 1981:339). They specifically found that the overall rates for "severe" violence was nearly five times as high for cohabitants when compared with marrieds. Marriage inhibits male violence. Another study found that spousal killings are higher in common law unions (Wilson and Daly 1992:197). The National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Justice Department shows that of all violent crimes against women by their relatives or intimate partners between 1979 and 1987, about 65 percent were committed by either a boyfriend or ex-husband, while only nine percent were committed by husbands.

The evidence is convincing.
Statscan, a Canadian government agency, reported "in a one year period, one in every five women who live in common law is assaulted -- and those with male partners under 25 are at most risk." A recent British study found that child abuse was twenty times more common in cases where the mother was cohabiting with a man other than her husband. When we consider that before 1960, cohabitation was relatively uncommon and that by the mid 1990s more than 50 percent of young couples were choosing to cohabit either before or in place of marriage, it should be no surprise that the incidence of domestic violence has increased.

Those who live together before marriage suffer from greater depression and anxiety.
Sexually active unmarried women are almost four times more likely to be under psychiatric care (John McDowell [b], Why Wait quoting Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, Sex and Sensibility). Cohabiting women have rates of depression 3 times higher than married women (National Institute for Mental Health). Nearly 25% of cohabiting women suffer from neurotic disorders, compared to 15% of married women. Cohabiting women are more irritable, anxious, worried and unhappy (Ciavola 1997). Unmarried people, in general, as happy than those who are married. They tend to get sick more often and die younger (McManus n.d. and Stanton 1995).

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