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What’s so bad about living together before marriage?

Living together before marriage is certainly becoming more popular: the U.S. Census shows a 164 percent increase in unmarried partners since 1980. But as cohabitation becomes more popular, its negative effects – especially on women – are becoming more apparent. Consider the following findings that research on cohabitation has discovered:
•Women who cohabit have a lower probability of marriage than women who do not.
•People who live together outside of marriage report poorer relationship quality and more fights or violence than their counterparts in marriages.
•The longer a couple lives together, the less likely it is that they will marry.
•People who live together before marriage are 50 to 100 percent more likely to divorce than people who don’t live together.

There are other startling statistics about the harmful effects of living together outside of marriage. From a Catholic perspective, sexuality is designed to unite partners and be open to new life. Without the commitment of marriage, sexual intercourse is fraught with potential problems: betrayal, breakups, crisis pregnancies and possibly abortion.

Although it takes courage to do one thing when the rest of society is doing another, the arguments against living together outside of marriage are powerful from both a Catholic and a sociological perspective.
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