By Patricia Morgan
A careful look at cohabitation and marriage following on from her previous book, Farewell to the Family. The author concludes, from the evidence from a multiplicity of sources, that cohabitation is not the same as marriage without a piece of paper. Cohabiting relationships are more likely to breakdown than marriages, particularly where children are involved.
It is no longer a matter of couples living together until they are ready to start a family. Couples who have children and then marry are more likely to break up than those who have children within marriage. Those who have children and do not marry are very unlikely to stay together to raise those children to adulthood. In fact half of women in such situations will be lone parents by the time the child is ten.
Far from being a rebellion against tradition by the majority who find themselves cohabiting, cohabitation is the best that some couples seem to be able to manage. It represents a gap between their aspirations and what they can achieve. The author puts forward the case for supporting institutions which give couples and society stability and structures to work within. Investing cohabiting couples with the legal and fiscal rights that go with marriage will not solve this problem, but encourage couples to opt for a lifestyle which offers no real stability and far poorer prospects than marriage and eventually the outcome of living alone.
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