To belong deeply some others is man’s deepest need. It lasts beyond death.
First and foremost children need to belong to both their parents and thrive most when those parents belong to each other and to their children. Then life is good, no matter the material circumstances.
In this week’s findings we see, yet again, the negative relationship between cohabitation and belonging. It is a major disruptor of marriage and a predictor of instability in marriage if one has had more than one sexual partner. These data are getting old now. By the mid 1980’s Larry Bumpass (U Wisconsin) and Jay Teachman (then U Maryland) began to put their finger this bad news. Since then the work of many but especially Scott Stanley has unpacked what is happening even when cohabitation results in marriage: “sliding not deciding”.
In the absence of a moral or cultural authority the data make little impact and people suffer, none more than the children of the cohabiting couple. Twenty-five years into the future these children in their turn are much more likely to repeat the pattern.
Cohabitation is faux belonging and helps build a faux society with more and more faux relationships.
For the good of the child,
Pat Fagan, Ph.D.