After reading the essay “The Cohabitation Epidemic” I do not believe the author (Neal Clack Warren) made a good case for his conclusion stating that we should be alarmed over the recent epidemic of cohabiting couples. When I first read the essay I wasn’t actually too sure that was the conclusion. So much time was spent arguing over the position that cohabiting with a partner is not a good form of a trail marriage, that it was lost in the mix to me. After rereading and breaking it down I tried to take a closer look and see if the premises lead to the conclusion.
At the beginning of the essay Neil explains the social changes that have occurred in the last few decades showing the stark rise of “unmarried –partner households. ” He claims that as a psychologist with a background in working with single and married couples we should be alarmed over this recent change. Neil then tells the reader the only two reasons why couples cohabitate. Either they want to enjoy the benefits of living together (“availability of sex, combined financial resources, shared household responsibilities, etc. ” ) or they want to use it as a trail marriage.
The author draws us into a false dilemma, which his what happens when an author asserts “that there are only two alternative to consider when there are actually more than two”2, in this case many other reasons. Some partners are in a same sex relationships and are not allowed to marry in “most US states” 3, some couples are not able to afford the financial burdens of marriage, and many have personal reasons for choosing to remain living together with a partner unmarried. Nonetheless, Neal states his three reasons why couples engage in “trail marriage” and choose to delay their marriage (1. Lot of luster in society 2. Witnessing broken marriages make it seem risky 3. Lost confidence in correctly judging long lasting matches ).
Neil leaves out many other possibilities like one trying engaging in a trail marriage to see how the relationship would change with extra time spent together or something as simple as to discover if the partner snores. Neil argues that trail marriages do not work. The problem with Neil’s lengthy debunk of cohabitation being a good form of trail marriage is that it is somewhat irrelevant to the conclusion.
Even if the premise that cohabitation does not work as trail marriage were true it would not necessarily lead to the conclusion that we should be alarmed over the recent increase of cohabitating couples. Even Neil earlier on stated that some couples cohabitate only for the perceived benefits with no plans of getting married making the argument irrelevant. If someone has no plans to get married then stating that cohabitation will cause future marriage to more likely fail is pointless. He uses the trail marriage argument, as red hearing when we should be hearing reasons to why cohabitating couples should alarm us.
A good premise for Neal’s conclusion would be one that shows a negative effect on couples and society over its sudden rise. Neil does bring in some premises that are relevant to that. Neil brings up some states showing that children born to cohabiting parents experience separation of their parents before the age of “16” at “75%” compared to those married at around “one third” . If it was demonstrated that a separation of parents lead to a negative impacts in a child’s life and behavior then the premise might stand.
Unfortunately since so few cohabiting couples decide to have children that the net parent separation rate bellow 16% is probably higher for married couples. Neil states that women are more likely to face “physical and sexual abuse” when living in cohabitation compared to a marriage. Neil fails to bring any stats or proof to that claim or anything thing showing that cohabitation is the cause and not just in correlation. An argument is made that relationships will not be as good as married relationships because the partners will not be “genuine and authentic” due to the thinking that “their partner may bolt at the first sign of trouble.
One could rebut that be not having this security would make both partners put more effort into maintaining the relationship due to the fact that they know their partner can leave much more easily. I find it hard to believe that married people are “emotionally, physically, financially, and vocationally” better off because the apparent studies are not listed and we are not informed in what way those statistics were collected. In conclusion, I am not impressed with the article simply because of its large focus on trail marriages and forgetting those who have no plan of getting married.
If the essay was tailored to those thinking of either getting married or cohabitating then I think many of the premises would be more relevant. It does not do a great job of logically convincing the reader that we should be alarmed that over the rise in cohabiting but instead makes arguments stating that cohabiting is not a good form of trail marriage. We should be alarmed over the recent increase cohabitating couples. There has been a recent in up rise in cohabitating couples. Cohabiting has many negative consequences.
Cohabiting does not work as a way to have a “trail marriage” Children born into cohabiting couples are deprived of the security that comes from knowing their parents have pledged themselves to each other for a lifetime. 75 Percent of children born to cohabiting parents will experience their parents’ separation before the age of 16 compared to children born to married parents. Best relationships require partners who are genuine and authentic Studies have shown that married people are better off emotionally, physically, financially, and vocationally than unmarried partners