Editor’s note: Dr. Janice Crouse presented this statement today at the press conference for the Howard Center‘s release of its Family Manifesto.
In an era where sexual liberation is one of the cornerstones for the empowerment of women, it is past time for American culture to recognize that the alternatives to marriage casual sex, cohabitation, single parenting are disastrous for women and children. The data clearly show the pathetic results of America’s experiment in sexual freedom the abandonment of the natural family has left women both paying the rent and rocking the baby. Let’s look at how the changes in family structure are reshaping American society and how the turning away from the married couple, natural family is detrimental to the well-being of women and children, and nations.
First, the number of married couples today “living together” without marriage is 10 times larger than in 1970. These non-marital relationships are fragile and unstable typically lasting only 18 months. If the couples do get married, their divorce rate is 80 percent higher than when they don’t cohabit before marriage. These nonmarital relationships are financially costly to women women typically contribute more than 70 percent of the income AND they end up doing more of the cleaning, cooking and laundry. Cohabiting males are four times more likely to cheat on their partners than are husbands. The mortality rate for cohabiting women is 50 percent higher than for wives. The dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) tracks the breakdown of marriage, with STDs six times higher among cohabiting women than married women. If living arrangements are compared, single mothers and cohabiting partners have dramatically higher poverty rates than married-couple families. Women are 62 times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband. A UCLA survey of 130 published empirical studies documented the fact that marriage is healthier than living together without marriage.
One study sums it up very bluntly: “The practice of unmarried couples living together does not serve the best interest of adults, children, society or governments.” The study continued: Living together too often leaves in its wake “a trail of broken relationships, unstable homes, children at risk, domestic violence, poverty, and thus a weakened society.” You cannot dictate to nature. Choices have consequences. The actual outcomes from sexual liberation carry a staggering cost: 35 million kids affected by divorce since 1970, 43 million abortions, 10 million STDs a year in young adults, one-third of all children born out of wedlock, 50 million women living alone as “unrelated individuals,” and the marriage rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1970.
Today’s postmodern myth tells us that marriage is optional; that only the “quality” of a relationship counts. The facts clearly show that the quality of a couple’s relationship depends upon its structure. There are some encouraging signs among today’s teens. Increasing numbers of teens are turning away from destructive behaviors: Abstinence is up, teen pregnancy is down, teen abortions are down. More and more young people are seeing that the married couple, natural family is a strong fortress against the storms of life. Any other structure for a household is a sandcastle doomed for destruction by the waves of adversity that inevitably crash against it.
Dr. Janice Crouse is Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank of Concerned Women for America. She is a recognized expert on the family.