W. Bradford Wilcox recently wrote an excellent piece in which he draws upon recent research that looks at couples who live together outside of marriage. Cohabiting couples have significantly lower levels of commitment than married couples. Men are less likely to be committed to the relationship than women. Wilcox observes:
"But given the disparate purposes cohabitation now serves--different
people see it variously as a courtship phase, an economical way to save
on rent, a venue for convenient sex, a prelude to getting serious, or
an alternative to marriage--young adults often end up living with
someone who doesn't share their relational goals."
If they do get married, it is often because they "slide" into marriage instead of deciding on the basis of a firm commitment. As a result of this, women who cohabit before engagement are forty percent more likely to become divorced, and couples who cohabit before engagement experience lower marital quality. Needless to say, none of these conclusions are surprising to those who believe that in God's ordering of creation the sexual union is both fundamental and limited to marriage.