Test Drive...

There's a growing trend in our culture for couples to live together before they get married. An increasing number of couples are moving in together before marriage, starting families, and even buying homes. Just as nobody buys a car without taking it for a test-drive, about two thirds of couples don’t get married until they’ve lived together. Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million.

Naturally, this is concerning to many of us who are married. These trends have also drawn concern from social scientists, psychologist, and various agencies. So what's behind this trend? In a word--fear. Many couples look at the rates of divorce, the challenges of relationships, and figure the odds are against them. In other words, it's the prospect of divorce that's driving more people to ask "Will you move in with me?" over "Will you marry me?"

Let’s face it, marriage is a big commitment, and it's natural to be nervous before jumping in, but research continues to show that marriage has measurable benefits, both mental and physical over cohabitation. This is particularly true as one ages. Here are some advantages to keep in mind as you make the second most important decision in your life.

  • Marriage creates not only a family unit, but a safety net of relatives that can offer a couple the support they need.
  • The commitment that comes with a marriage declaration gives your spouse a sense of security.
  • The institution of marriage creates the social, economic and emotional conditions for effective parenting.
  • Married women are at lower risk for domestic violence than women in cohabiting or dating relationships.

Children raised by their own married mother and father are:

  • Less likely to be poor or to experience persistent economic insecurity
  • More likely to stay in school, have fewer behavioral and attendance problems, and earn four-year college degrees.
  • Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
  • On average, husbands and wives are healthier, happier and enjoy longer lives than those who are not married.

Also, consider what the Bible says about the topic in these verses.

Genesis 2:22-24

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Proverbs 5:18-19-He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 31:10-A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect. But before you put all your eggs in this basket, there's yet another study that came out recently sheds more light on this topic. Evidently, moving in before marriage doesn’t automatically make you a divorce statistic. Choosing a partner too early does.

A new study from the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families frames the problem in terms of the age you get married. In the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, claims that the age a couple said "I do" was among the strongest predictors of divorce. Experts warn it’s hardly something to be taken lightly.

Arielle Kuperberg was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania when something in her sociology textbooks caught her eye. In research on marriage longevity, Kuperberg observed that the age a couple said “I do” was among the strongest predictors of divorce.

I personally believe that age doesn’t determine the future of a married couple. I was 22 when I got married and my grandmother was fifteen. We both have had very successful marriages. I do agree that some young people can be very immature and not understand the real meaning of marriage, but at the same time older people can also be very immature and fail to understand that marriage requires a lifetime commitment and a dying to self attitude.

Marriage is a joyful and fulfilling act of love that brings security to the couple, their children, and society. Living together before you get married is not going to bring the sense of security, love and commitment that a couple needs to have. Do not compromise. Remember, God will always help you if you ask Him and will shine His favor for obeying His will.