Cohabitation Isn't Nirvana on Earth, 2 Sociologists Say
Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
America's 4 million cohabiting couples live together to save money, test-run a marriage, have a ready sexual partner and stave off loneliness, says a report on cohabitation.
However, research indicates that living together often leads to broken romances and child abuse - not happiness, sociologists David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead say in a study released today.
In fact, cohabiting appears to be so counterproductive to long-lasting marriage that unmarried couples should avoid living together - especially if it involves children, wrote the sociologists, who are directors of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.
Living together is "a fragile family form that poses increased risk to women and children," said Mrs. Whitehead, who captured national attention with her 1993 Atlantic Monthly article, "Dan Quayle Was Right."
"Women tend to see [living together] as a step toward eventual marriage, while men regard it more as a sexual opportunity without the ties of long-term commitment," she wrote with Mr. Popenoe in their report, "Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage."
But people who live in uncommitted relationships may be unwilling to work out problems, and instead, will start searching for less fractious relationships with a new partner.
Women should know that "if you think that this is a way to get him to commit, you're likely to be disappointed," said Mrs. Whitehead.
The report comes amid unprecedented growth in the number of cohabiting couples in America. In 1997, the total number of unmarried couples living together in America was 4. …