Most Thoughtful, Scientific Discussion of Why Cohabitation Hurts Your Marriage

From time to time I will highlight a classic source you can reliably use to teach children, fellow-church-members, friends, elected representatives and the public  (when you pen a letter or editorial) about the science of happiness and freedom in connection with sex, marriage and parenting.

Today, I’m highlighting the greatest material I have ever found regarding how cohabitation risks the happiness and security of later marriage. The findings are thoroughly documented, nuanced, and logically presented by Professor Scott Stanley of the University of Denver. No one does a better job of explaining exactly why cohabiting is not only associated with higher rates of divorce, but also plays a causal role.

The entertaining video is here. It’s over an hour but WELL worth your time, especially for those of you trying to explain this to kids or friends:

  • The associated academic paper is here: Stanley, Scott M., Rhoades, Galena K., Markham, Howard J. “Sliding vs. Deciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect.” Family Relations, 55. 499-509. 2006.

His other relevant academic papers are as follows:

  • Stanley, Scott M., Rhoades, Galena K., Whitton, Sarah W. “Commitment: Functions, Formation, and the Securing of Romantic Attachment.” (PDF) Journal of Family Theory & Review. 2(4): 243–257. 2010 December 1; doi:10.1111/j.1756-2589.2010.00060.x.
  • Rhoades, Galena K., Scott, Stanley M., Markham, Howard J. “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Predicting Dating Relationship Stability from Four Aspects of Commitment.” (PDF) Journal of Family Psychology. 24(5): 543–550. 2010 October ; doi:10.1037/a0021008.
  • Stanley, Scott M., Amato, Paul R., Markham, Howard J., Johnson, Christine A. “The Timing of Cohabitation and Engagement: Impact on First and Seconds Marriages.” (PDF) Journal of Family Psychology. 72(4): 906-918. 2010 August 1. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00738.x.

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