Tag Archives: Shacking Up

New study: men and women have different goals and expectations when cohabitating

Men who cohabitate are not certain that the relationship is permanent
Cohabitating men don’t see cohabitation as permanent, but married men do see marriage as permanent

Consider this fascinating article from the radically-leftist The Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the different beliefs of cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations for relationships.

Excerpt:

According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

[…]The only thing worse than being in a relationship for years with an uncommitted person, it would seem, is marrying one. Research by psychologists Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades, spotlighted in a New York Times op-ed last year, suggests that cohabiting couples are in for trouble when they “slide” into cohabitation and then marriage rather than “decide” to take the same steps. Their work indicates that many couples begin living together without clear expectations, common values, or a shared commitment to one another. And after a time, some of these couples get married, in part because friends, family, and they themselves think it’s the logical next step. But without common values and a shared sense of commitment, the couples who slide into cohabitation and marriage, instead of purposely deciding to deepen their commitment to one another, are more likely to divorce.

Stanley and Rhoades illustrate this point by pointing to the research on cohabitation, engagement, and divorce. Women who cohabit prior to engagement are about 40 percent more likely to divorce, compared to those who do not cohabit. By contrast, couples who cohabit after an engagement do not face a higher divorce risk. Those who cohabit only after engagement or marriage also report higher marital quality, not just lower odds of divorce. Stanley and Rhoades think that “sliders” are more likely than “deciders” to cohabit prior to an engagement, and to have trouble in their marriage if they go on to tie the knot. On the other hand, couples who deliberately choose to move in together after a public engagement or wedding are more likely to enjoy the shared commitment that will enable their relationship to last.

So, given the low levels of commitment and the gender mismatch in expectations often found among today’s cohabiting couples, young men and especially women who aspire to a strong and stable marriage should take caution when considering moving in together.

You can click through the article to see the graphs he is talking about in the excerpt. Highly recommended. Just be aware Wilcox that accepts feminism (i.e. – promiscuity, no-fault-divorce, career-focus, day care, etc.) as non-negotiable improvements that should not be rolled back. His view is that men should just man up and continue to marry feminists like they used to marry non-feminists, even though marriage isn’t as good of a deal for men as it used to be before feminism.

It turns out that women cannot just pick a good-looking guy and drift into a commitment by stringing together good days and good experiences. A man who is looking for recreational premarital sex with a woman before marriage is not looking for marriage, but recreation. Marriage is a commitment to work hard, be disciplined, be self-sacrificial and to compromise with another person – all in close quarters. When choosing a mate, you need to look for someone who is good at commitments. Not someone who is good at fun.

The ability to have fun with a man is not a good predictor of marital success because fun is unrelated to the things that a man really does in a marriage: protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues. Similarly, the ability to impress your friends with a man’s appearance or entertainment value does not make a commitment work. What makes a commitment work… is a man who demonstrates that he is good at making plans and achieving goals through discipline and hard work. Marriage requires making plans and achieving goals more than it requires having fun. Recreational premarital sex is about having fun – not making plans and achieving goals. Instead of talking about the next good time with a man, maybe women need to learn to talk about the mechanics of marriage with a man. And talk about the man’s roles in a marriage with a man. And then they need to learn to avoid men who don’t have plans and who aren’t ready to perform those roles. There are plenty of men who are not “bad boys” who do have plans and who are ready to perform traditional male roles. Young women: don’t waste your youth and beauty on men who are not ready to commit.

A final point. I have noticed today that women tend to avoid men who have strong, exclusive views on moral questions and spiritual questions. The minute a man expresses a moral point of view or a theological argument, women tend to want to avoid him. Sometimes they fear rejection from men with definite convictions. Sometimes they resent male leadership. And there are other reasons to avoid strong men. The problem is that a man who has definite moral views is exactly the kind of man who is likely to be trustworthy and predictable in the marriage. And a man who has definite spiritual views is exactly the kind of man who is going to have some sort of overarching plan for the marriage (AND PARENTING) beyond mere pleasure. You wouldn’t choose someone who was guided by hedonism to be your stock broker or your medical doctor, because doing a hard job requires self-sacrifice and discipline. The same rule applies to choosing husbands. Husbands have duties that are typically best performed by moral, spiritual men.

What you do before you marry affects your marital happiness and stability

A recent article from The Federalist explains why chastity matters when choosing a mate.

Excerpt:

[A] new study shows that the more relationships you’ve had prior to marriage, the less likely you’ll have a good marriage. This seems somewhat obvious, but it’s so contrary to popular culture and practice these days that even the study’s authors say the finding is “counterintuitive.”

“In most areas, more experience is better. You’re a better job candidate with more experience, not less. When it comes to relationship experience, though, we found that having more experience before getting married was associated with lower marital quality,” said Galena K. Rhoades, research associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver. She’s a co-author of the study “Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have To Do With Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?,” from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The report has all sorts of interesting findings, including that large weddings and conscious decision-making in relationships are also factors in happy marriages.

Previous marriages and previously having lived with a partner were both identified as risk factors for less-happy marriages, the authors said. We know so much about how living together is a risk factor for all sorts of unhappiness that I seriously have to restrain myself from shouting at my female friends who tell me they’re moving in or have moved in with their boyfriends. I mean, even if there were no moral problem with it, it’s just bad strategy if you want a happy life.

[…][T]he nearly one-quarter of people in the study who had sex solely with the person they married reported high marital quality, higher than those who had sex with other partners prior to marriage. And the more sexual partners a woman had before marriage, the less happy she reported her marriage to be. Well that’s not what we’ve been told by the Cosmo-Jezebel alliance. The study’s authors speculate on why this might be.

One reason that more experience could lead to lower marital quality is that more experience may increase one’s awareness of alternative partners. A strong sense of alternatives is believed to make it harder to maintain commitment to, and satisfaction with, what one already has. People who have had many relationships prior to their current one can compare a present partner to their prior partners in many areas—like conflict management, dating style, physical attractiveness, sexual skills, communication ability, and so on. Marriage involves leaving behind other options, which may be harder to do with a lot of experience.

I have to say that this factor is the biggest factor that gives me pause when considering marriage with a woman with a sexual past. Will I be compared to these other men? Will I be trusted? Will she be vulnerable to me? Usually when a woman has had past experiences with bad men, then she tends to be more guarded with me, regardless of how I would perform sexually after we were married. I am interested in a woman being trusting and vulnerable, yet a sexual past usually doesn’t make a woman more trusting and vulnerable.

However, there is a way to work on the problem, I think – and that way is taking a structured approach to courting that involves open communication and deliberate planning:

[T]he hook-up thing, which was a factor in lower marital quality, also matches with other less formalized arrangements that are becoming common among younger generations. If you can make out with someone thanks to the lowered inhibitions you guzzled down at the bar, you don’t have to make a formal request to ask her out or to plan a date. Similarly, many respondents reported shacking prior to marriage. And those who lived with their eventual spouse before making a commitment to marry reported lower marital quality than those who waited to move in together until they were engaged or married.

The study actually had people rate how much of living together was a conscious decision vs. something that just sort of happened. And the more it was a decision, the happier the eventual marriage was. This might be because of higher levels of commitment present at the time of moving in or because it reflects better communication skills, a key to marital contentment, the authors said.

The same sort of conscious decision making effect could be seen in differences in pre-marital counseling. While only 32 percent of those who did not have premarital preparation reported high marital quality, that jumped to 57 percent of those who did take part in premarital preparation. Less sliding, more deciding might not be a Millennial motto but it should be.

What you want to avoid is someone who cannot communicate and is not good at making decisions and then sticking with her decisions over the long haul. And that can be developed – it can be worked on and improved. But it takes time to do.

Here’s the author’s conclusion:

All the options make it hard to man-up or woman-up and make some decisions because we’re so terrified of missing out on the next best thing. But the whole truly counterintuitive point of a happy marriage is that you’re not supposed to be thinking about what your spouse can do for you so much as what you can do for your spouse. That’s why this whole commercialized approach to spouse-picking is wrong. When you’re trying to figure out which yogurt to buy, you’re doing a lot of comparison shopping, but you’re not thinking of what you can do for the yogurt, you know?

We all want marriage, more or less, but we couldn’t be doing a worse job of trying to attain it. We want to find the perfect spouse, even though he or she doesn’t exist and finding a perfect spouse isn’t what marriage is about. What’s worse, we demand that someone forgive us our many faults even while we’re mentally comparing our potential spouse with other people or figments of our imagination. We should stop with that and really work at doing what it takes to get married and stay happily married.

[…]Even if you have not made the healthiest or most prudential sexual choices prior to now, don’t flip out or despair. Just because some factors are related to marital happiness doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy marriage. Just focus on making better decisions from this point forward. Be conscious and deliberate about them. Stop letting life happen to you and start thinking about what you want and how to get there. And, finally, remember that your big extended family is a blessing and that rituals occur throughout the world for very good reason.

I think having a string of past relationships does lead a person to want to delay marriage and hold out for “the next best thing”. That’s why so many women are delaying marriage and getting into fertility problems. They want to have fun and them jump off the carousel into the respectability of marriage at the last possible instant. Which is not fun for a man who is seeking the kind of intimacy that grows slowly over time. I have always been impressed by couples who have been married for decades, but you get that by marrying for the benefit of that other person, instead of holding out for the best deal for you. If you find someone you want to care for for the rest of your life, just marry them – that’s my advice. Try to make relationships more about planning and obligations, and less about fun and excitement.

New study: unmarried parents four times more likely to split up than married couples

Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Unmarried parents are four times more likely to split up than those who have wed, research revealed yesterday.

It also indicated that co-habiting couples with children under 16 are now responsible for the majority of  family breakdowns.

On average, 5.3 per cent of these relationships ended each year from 2009-12, according to the study.

But among those who had taken their vows, the average rate was only 1.3 per cent, said the Marriage Foundation think-tank and university academics.

The high rate of co-habiting parents in family splits comes despite these couples making up only a fifth of those with children.

The figures were gathered from the findings of a £50 million state-sponsored research project, the Understanding Society survey.

Over the last 20 years, it has gathered information on the progress of families and now tracks events in 40,000 homes.

I have a friend who moved in with a non-Christian guy before she became a Christian and they broke up. She told me all about it. When I was listening to her, the thought occurred to me that women and men think that co-habitation is leading to different places. And it turns out that there is some evidence to support this intuition.

Consider  this fascinating article from the Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the variances between cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations.

Excerpt:

According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

Women are thinking that it is going to lead to some deeper commitment from the man, but men are thinking that they are getting what they want already (sex) and that they want to avoid the higher risks of making a more formal commitment.

New study: men and women have different goals and expectations when cohabitating

Carson Weitnauer shared this fascinating article from the Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the variances between cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations.

Excerpt:

According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

[…]The only thing worse than being in a relationship for years with an uncommitted person, it would seem, is marrying one. Research by psychologists Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades, spotlighted in a New York Times op-ed last year, suggests that cohabiting couples are in for trouble when they “slide” into cohabitation and then marriage rather than “decide” to take the same steps. Their work indicates that many couples begin living together without clear expectations, common values, or a shared commitment to one another. And after a time, some of these couples get married, in part because friends, family, and they themselves think it’s the logical next step. But without common values and a shared sense of commitment, the couples who slide into cohabitation and marriage, instead of purposely deciding to deepen their commitment to one another, are more likely to divorce.

Stanley and Rhoades illustrate this point by pointing to the research on cohabitation, engagement, and divorce. Women who cohabit prior to engagement are about 40 percent more likely to divorce, compared to those who do not cohabit. By contrast, couples who cohabit after an engagement do not face a higher divorce risk. Those who cohabit only after engagement or marriage also report higher marital quality, not just lower odds of divorce. Stanley and Rhoades think that “sliders” are more likely than “deciders” to cohabit prior to an engagement, and to have trouble in their marriage if they go on to tie the knot. On the other hand, couples who deliberately choose to move in together after a public engagement or wedding are more likely to enjoy the shared commitment that will enable their relationship to last.

So, given the low levels of commitment and the gender mismatch in expectations often found among today’s cohabiting couples, young men and especially women who aspire to a strong and stable marriage should take caution when considering moving in together.

You can click through the article to see the graphs he is talking about in the excerpt. Highly recommended. It turns out that women cannot just pick a good-looking guy and drift into a commitment by stringing together good days and good experiences. Ladies, let’s be clear. A man who will have recreational premarital sex with you before marriage is not looking for marriage, but recreation. Marriage is a commitment to work hard, be disciplined, be self-sacrificial and to compromise with another person – all in close quarters. When choosing a mate, you need to look for someone who is good at commitments. Not someone who is good at fun.

The ability to have fun with a man is not a good predictor of marital success because fun is unrelated to the things that a man really does in a marriage: protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues. Similarly, the ability to impress your friends with a man’s appearance or entertainment value does not make a commitment work. What makes a commitment work… is a man who demonstrates that he is good at making plans and achieving goals through discipline and hard work. Marriage requires making plans and achieving goals more than it requires having fun. Recreational premarital sex is about having fun – not making plans and achieving goals. Instead of talking about the next good time with a man, maybe women need to learn to talk about the mechanics of marriage with a man. And talk about the man’s roles in a marraige with a man. And then they need to learn to avoid men who don’t have plans and who aren’t ready to perform those roles. There are plenty of men who are not “bad boys” who do have plans and who are ready to perform traditional male roles.

A final point. I have noticed today that women tend to avoid men who have strong, exclusive views on moral questions and spiritual questions. The minute a man expresses a moral point of view or a theological argument, women tend to want to avoid him. Sometimes they fear rejection from men with definite convictions. Sometimes they resent male leadership. And there are other reasons to avoid strong men. The problem is that a man who has definite moral views is exactly the kind of man who is likely to be trustworthy and predictable in the marriage. And a man who has definite spiritual views is exactly the kind of man who is going to have some sort of overarching plan for the marriage (AND PARENTING) beyond mere pleasure. You wouldn’t choose someone who was guided by hedonism to be your stock broker or your medical doctor, because doing a hard job requires self-sacrifice and discipline. The same rule applies to choosing husbands. Husbands have duties that are typically best performed by moral, spiritual men.

Scottish court orders man to pay £39,500 to woman after failed cohabitation

From the Scotsman.

Excerpt:

A LANDMARK Supreme Court ruling, in which a man has been ordered to pay his former partner compensation after they separated, could open the doors for thousands of claims from unmarried couples who split up, a family lawyer has claimed.

In yesterday’s judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that Angus Grant should pay Jessamine Gow £39,500 after the cohabiting pensioners’ relationship ended.

The right to compensation for unmarried couples became available under section 8 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, but had not been tested in the Supreme Court until yesterday.

[The ruling] does create a precedent that could allow unmarried couples to seek financial compensation similar to that available to divorcing couples, but without the assumption of an equal division of assets.

Last night, a family law expert warned that it could affect thousands of couples and lead to a rush for “cohabitation agreements” – a kind of pre-nuptial for the unmarried – from people planning to move in together.

[…]Robert Wright, professor of economics at Strathclyde University, said: “It will make people rethink cohabitation, rethink marriage. It might lead to people waiting longer, so we could see less cohabitation, less marriage and less fertility.”

Are people responsible for the damage caused by their own free decisions? According to the court, they are not.

Dina sent me this UK Daily Mail article by Melanie Phillips, which comments on this story.

Excerpt:

The relentless war against the family in Britain continues in the highest court of the land. Baroness Hale, the veteran ‘lifestyle choice’ radical who, as a member of the UK Supreme Court, is the country’s top female judge, has called for cohabiting couples to be given more legal rights.

[…]For sure, cohabitation often results in hardship, very much more so indeed than marriage. Cohabitation breaks down far more frequently than marriage, and even more so after the birth of any children. Cohabitation is therefore one of the most significant factors behind Britain’s catastrophic and galloping phenomenon of mass fatherlessness, the single most important cause of so much misery and harm for both children and adults, and the major cause in turn of unquantifiable damage to society.

If people want to avoid the hardship they very understandably fear will result from the absence of legal protection under cohabitation, they can choose to get married. That’s what marriage is for. To bestow this legal protection upon cohabitation is to turn the ratchet of family breakdown another notch. First you undermine marriage by removing the stigma of ‘living together’, illegitimacy and unmarried motherhood; then you turn the ratchet by hymning the sanctity of ‘lifestyle choice’ and the social acceptability of cohabitation as an alternative to marriage; then you turn it again by bestowing the benefits of marriage upon un-marriage, thus incentivising a socially destructive phenomenon which will create yet more misery and harm.

Lady Hale’s call is not for justice in family life but gross injustice. It is yet another boost to our rights-without-responsibilities, something-for-nothing, me-first culture which has already advanced the destruction of family life in Britain, created regional deserts of social and moral breakdown and made victims out of the most vulnerable.

My biggest concern about this is the message that it sends to men who are already turning away from the responsibilities of marriage. Men already have to contend with no-fault divorce, a massive repression, etc. which causes them to doubt the reasonableness of marriage at this time. This ruling will push them even further away from relationships with women, by making even cohabitation threatening financially. I don’t think that the judge in this case realizes the incentives that are being created by this decision. When men see that relationships with women that go beyond just sex are becoming more costly and risky, they will stop doing that. Why take the risk of being cleaned out financially? My prediction is that this short-sighted ruling will push men and women further apart, so that sex without any structured relationship becomes the norm, and children have even less of a stable environment in which to grow up.

People are more inclined these to complain that men need to “man up” and get married, but it is important to consider what the incentives are for men. Are we doing a good job of educating men with practical skills, encouraging job creators with lower taxes and less regulation, and lowering the legal risks of marriage for men? Are we encouraging women to understand men and to respect them, which is the main thing that men are looking for in a marriage? Are we encouraging women to be chaste so that men are encouraged to perform at a higher level to earn a woman’s commitment to him in marriage? If we are not giving men incentives to marry – or even to cohabitate – then we mustn’t be surprised when men decide that other things are more rewarding than marriage.