Weighing the Alternative
MOST persons agree that experiences such as the foregoing do happen. But they point out that many marriages are also filled with problems and anxieties.
That certainly is true. The increasing number of divorces in nearly every country on earth is an evidence of that.
However, does this mean that living together without marriage is more endurable, a better way to happiness?
Which Is Stronger?
The claim is made that a relationship by choice is stronger than a relationship by obligation. But which is really stronger: One that is promised to last only one day at a time until something comes up that a person doesn’t want to cope with? or one that is prepared to adjust to unforeseen circumstances and lasts as long as possible?
Many problems are the same. For example, decisions on such things as where to live, how much independence each should have, what sex practices to accept, and whether to have children are common to both married persons and those living together without marriage.
But without the marriage commitment other problems are compounded. For example, what major items should be purchased and with whose money? Who should know that they are not married, and who shouldn’t know? What personal friends can they invite to the home, and how are they going to introduce themselves to others? How are one’s own family and close relatives to be faced? These are just a few of the things made more difficult without the commitment of marriage.
Value of Commitment
A 28-year-old teacher who later married the woman he was living with said: “After a couple of years, I began to feel as though I was living in a void. Living together provided no future orientation. . . . We couldn’t decide whether to buy a house or not, whether to spend our money on lavish vacations or to save for a family. Now, neither of us is free to pick up and leave, but the trade-off is that we can make plans.”
A 34-year-old writer observed: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but the commitment of marriage makes me feel more secure. I’ve had so many relationships end with men just abruptly splitting, that worrying about whether J‐‐‐ would take off, too, drained energy from my work. I love the comfort of having admitted to ourselves and the world that we intend to stick together.”
True, total commitment in marriage does not cushion persons from problems. But it does help people to feel more obligated to work at resolving them and not accepting failure so quickly. As one husband who had quarreled continuously with his roommate before marriage said: “Since we’ve married we’ve been trying harder not to have fights. We’re both making an effort. We’re committed so there’s no sense fighting about it. Before, we used to always threaten to break up, but we don’t seem to do that now.”
Dr. Nancy Clatworthy of Ohio State University (U.S.A.) found that couples who had not lived together before marriage were “just a little bit happier and more successful. There were fewer divorces.” A study of 211 couples in Australia revealed that “cohabiters discussed ending the relationship . . . much more often than marrieds.” The report observed that where there was a lesser commitment to the relationship there were “lower feelings of liking and love toward the partner as well as lower sexual fidelity to their partner than marrieds.”
When Children Are Involved
What kind of relationship has been found best suited to the mental and physical well-being of children? Without a doubt, it is that of a stable two-parent marriage that provides affection, support and instruction.
Many who live together without marriage promise that they will marry if pregnancy results. But is an unplanned pregnancy a good foundation on which to build a marriage? All too often, when pregnancy results the partner refuses to marry. Is it really adult to stigmatize one’s children with illegitimacy?
Evidence shows that, in general, children who know that their parents were not married, as with those who come from broken homes, grow up distrusting people. They are less able to form permanent relationships themselves, and may be very cynical about the value of love.
A loving father and mother make a huge difference in a child’s development and stability. British child psychiatrist Arthur Graham said: “We have found no better way to raise a child than in a family setting, and all our efforts should be directed to reinforcing the ability of parents to do the job.”
The indicators all point to one conclusion: the higher the commitment, the more likely the relationship will succeed for all involved. But why is this so?
A Deeper Reason
There is a much deeper reason why marriage is the better arrangement for all concerned, and why, as Dr. Graham said, “we have found no better way to raise a child than in a family setting.” It has to do with the way we are made.
Obviously, the human mind and emotions are very complex things. Who, then, is to say how they work best in male-female relationships, as well as where children are concerned?
Well, would not the Creator of the male and female, the one who designed the childbearing capabilities, be in the best position to know? Surely, the Maker of the two sexes can tell us why he created them and how a relationship among them will work best.
Thus, when, in the Bible, we are told that God ‘created them male and female,’ we can be certain that there was a purpose behind this. (Gen. 1:27) One purpose was companionship and another involved the producing of offspring, since the female is spoken of as “a complement” of the male. (Gen. 2:18) Was their relationship to be on a trial basis? No, answers the Creator’s Word: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) Further, such a stable marriage relationship would provide the best atmosphere for raising children.—Gen. 1:28; Eph. 6:4.
Yes, God created two sexes and purposed that they should come together in honorable marriage and stick to each other to form a family. Indeed, Jesus Christ later said: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9) The Bible adds: “This is what God wills . . . that you abstain from fornication.”—1 Thess. 4:3.
Therefore, living together without making a commitment before witnesses and having this properly registered simply means that a couple is living in fornication. Such an illicit union cannot be blessed by God, and cannot result in a clean conscience on the part of those who want to do what is right.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Rev. 21:8; 22:15.
Some may feel that God’s moral laws deprive them of various pleasures in life. But this is not the case at all. His laws were made for the good of humans, not to deprive them of some happiness. The enormous increase of venereal disease, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and heartaches coming from the wanton disregard of God’s moral laws shows that flouting God’s law brings no lasting good to humans.
Still, if marriage is God’s arrangement, then why have so many married people experienced such heartache, especially in our generation? What does it take to make a marriage succeed?
[Blurb on page 6]
Evidence shows that, in general, children who know that their parents were not married grow up to distrust people
[Blurb on page 7]
The indicators all point to one conclusion: the higher the commitment, the more likely the success of the relationship for all involved
[Blurb on page 7]
Jesus Christ said: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery”