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June 29, 2002
Column #1087

"Ten Reasons Why Men Won't Commit"

     Marriage rates have plunged 37% since 1960, according to the National Marriage Project's latest "State of Our Unions" report by David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. 


     In a word, cohabitation. In 1960, 430,000 unmarried couples were living together. By 2000, the number soared 12-fold to 5 million! Only 2.3 million couples marry in a year. Thus, cohabitation is now the dominant way male-female unions are formed.

     I understand why men do it - for easy, available sex. But why are women agreeing to it? 

     Every young woman and parents of young adults need to know the report's "Ten Reasons Why Men Won't Commit." Based on interviews with heterosexual men in four major metro areas: northern New Jersey, Chicago, Washington and Houston, the top reason is "They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past." 

     As my mother used to say, "If you get free milk, why buy the cow?" 

     #2 "They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying." Men like the convenience of having a regular sex partner and the economies of shared living. They believe living together is a way to avoid an unhappy marriage and eventual divorce. In fact, a stunning 44 percent of men say they would only marry someone if she agreed to live together first. Men say this is the only way to test compatibility for marriage. 

     Women: do you know how to answer this nonsense? Studies at the University of Wisconsin in 1989, confirmed in 2001 by the National Marriage Project (NMP), report those who cohabit before marriage are 50 percent MORE likely to divorce than those who remain separate. 

     #3. Men want to avoid divorce and fear its financial consequences. They feel their assets are better protected if they cohabit rather than marry, that an ex-wife will "take you for all you've got." The reality is that after divorce, women with children fare worse, often sinking into poverty.

     #4. "They want to wait until they are older to have children." Easy for them to say.  "Unlike women, they have no biological clock to impose a strict time limit on fertility," says NMP. Men are indifferent to women's time pressures. As one said, "That's their issue."

     #5. "They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises." Men have become accustomed to their own space, routines and resent women who try to change them.  They are looking for a woman so compatible, that "you don't have to change."

     #6. "They are waiting for the perfect soul mate and she hasn't yet appeared." Men don't want to settle for second best in their choice of a marriage partner. However, they don't have the same standards for a live-in girl friend. Indeed, "They see her as a second best partner while they continue to look for a soul mate." Remember that ladies, when asked to cohabit!

     #7. "They face few social pressures to marry." Traditional pressures from religion, employers, society or even from parents have evaporated. 

     #8. "They are reluctant to marry a woman who has children." This is an excellent reason for women who give birth out-of-wedlock to relinquish the child for adoption. But of the 1.3 million births to unwed mothers, only 20,000 are adopted. 

     #9. "They want to own a house before they get a wife." However, few of the men interviewed for this study are homeowners. 

     #10. "They want to enjoy single life as long as they can." They are having lots of fun with no responsibilities, as they see it. Yet 41 percent of cohabiting couples have children. Without the wedding ring, that man will soon be out of there, looking for some soul mate.

     Sadly, many men are promiscuous and selfish. But that's not new. What's new is that women are accommodating, willing to be a Playmate. 

     The study says, "The most significant factor contributing to male delay of marriage is the rise of cohabitation. Men can get many of the benefits of marriage without the commitment to marriage."

     Only as long as women remain fools.

     Now, let me ask a question: Have you ever heard a sermon on cohabitation? I bet not. 

     Why not? The church needs to take a stand on behalf of God's first institution. Pastors need to say that if women accept male immorality, they undermine their future, citing data that if more women said no, more would get married. And fewer would divorce.

     Jesus dared criticize the woman at the well: "The man with whom you are now living is not your husband." 

     This is one shoe you can't try on before you wear it.


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