Just the facts, ma’am

Just the facts, ma’am

I’ll admit it. While I’m doing the daily crossword puzzle in the Boston Herald, I usually read the Ask Amy advice column on the same page. Sometimes her advice is sound, but usually it’s the same old liberal “consenting adults” baloney foisted on people everywhere. I could answer about half of her questions with the same reply: “Grow up, act your age, keep your pants on, and live up to your commitments (see the first part of this sentence).”

Today’s was a real whopper though. Someone wrote in to take her to task for failing to tell people with out-of-wedlock intimate relationships that the reasons for their problems of infidelity and emotional abuse is the lack of trust and commitment. In other words, your extramarital sexual relationships are so terrible because you’re not married.

Predictably, Amy doesn’t like that one bit and fires back with “studies also show that couples that live together before marriage… stay together at about the same rate as couples that don’t live together before marriage.” Studies? What studies? Unfortunately she doesn’t cite any studies, probably because people who begin a sentence with “studies show” are usually grasping at thin air. (Cf. Patrick Coffin’s “If I were dictator” post)

So what did I do? I went out and found actual studies and, lo and behold, they say the exact opposite of what she claims.

The risk of divorce after living together is 40 to 85% higher than the risk of divorce after not living together. In other words, those who live together before marriage are almost twice as likely to divorce than those who did not live together (Bumpass & Sweet 1995; Hall & Zhao 1995; Bracher, Santow, Morgan & Russell 1993; DeMaris & Rao 1992 and Glen 1990).

And just so you know those names and dates aren’t pulled out of thin air, the above-linked site helpfully provides a full bibliography and even web links.

  • Bumpass, Larry L., R. Kelly Raley and James A. Sweet, “The Changing Character or Stepfamilies: Implications of Cohabitation and Nonmarital Childbearing” NSFH 63, Demography 32(1995):425-36.
    URL: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/cde/nsfh63ab.htm

  • Hall, David R. and John A. Zhoa, “Cohabitation and Divorce in Canada: Testing the Selectivity Hypothesis,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(1995) 421-427.

  • Bracher, Michael; Santow, Gigi; Morgan, S. Phillip; R. Trussell, James, “Marriage Dissolution in Australia: Models and Explanations.” Population Studies 47 (1993) 403-425.

  • DeMaris, Alfred and K.Vaninadha Rao, “Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability in the United States: A Reassessment.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54(1992) 178-190.

  • Glenn, Norval D, “Quantitative Research on Marital quality in the 1980’s: A Critical Review.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52 (1990) 818-831.

Not that’s how you support an argument with facts.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
5 comments
  • Scripture says that a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. 

    We assume that is a description of the marriage act, but the two really do become one physical flesh in the person of the child that is the fruit of their union.  That new life is a witness for all time and eternity that their marriage took place, much more so than the marriage certificate could ever be.  You can neither divorce nor annul the reality of the marriage as evidenced by the person of the child.

    The sexual act has been incorporated into the sacrament of marriage as its consummation.  It creates an emotional bond that cannot be created in any other way.  I’ve often referred to it as “marriage glue” because I believe that God arranged it for just this purpose, to cement a couple to each other in order to provide parents for the children they will create.

    But if the glue is wasted on premarital or extramarital sexual relations, it looses its potency.  Then when it is used in the proper way to cement a marriage, it is too weak to hold when the trials that come to every marriage begin; and without effective “marriage glue” marriages crumble, as Dom’s statistics demonstrate.

  • Excellent stats, er, sources, I mean!  I’ll be bookmarking those for future reference (for talks with the daughter).

  • I agree w you, Dom – I find Ask Amy inconsistent too. Thanks for the studies. This issue comes up occasionally on another board where I post, and I have been meaning to look around for some studies/stats of my own.

    And the phrase, “consenting adults”? Ugh, can’t stand it. I think it’s often a red flag that someone knows something is wrong and just has no other way to defend it. People’s behavior seldom occurs in a vacuum and affects no one other than themselves. I’m sure most abortions result from relations between “consenting adults,” ditto for pornography and prostitution (shudder).

    Ew, my skin is crawling now, sorry if anyone else’s is too 🙁

    Best –

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