The Associated Press (AP) wrote an article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “Cohabitation before marriage? It’s no greater divorce risk.” The article used a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the US National Institute of Health, which sought to discover “trends and group differences” between marital statuses of those aged 15 to 44 years. When analyzing the AP article to the actual study, the article turns out to be rather misleading.
The title the AP used implies that divorce is not more likely for those who cohabitated before marriage than for those who maintained chastity. However, when going to the CDC study itself, this statement is found false. The study examined marriage survival of men and women in 5-year intervals from 5 to 20 years. In every interval, those who did not cohabitate with their future spouse had a greater chance of marriage survival than those who did cohabitate. The probability between these categories is often close in comparison, but the title blatantly misrepresents the facts. It would have been accurate to claim that in some of the year intervals, the difference was statistically insignificant. The study even specifies, “Looking at 20 years duration, women who had never cohabited with their first husband before marriage had a higher probability of marriage survival (57%), compared with women who had cohabited with their first spouse before marriage.”
There are more examples than just comparing the title, and discerning readers should examine both texts. This is yet another example of the media attempting to alter our culture’s perception of marriage, and to make cohabitation more palatable. However, even with their quoted data, marriage still stands. For further critique of the AP’s paper, check out Glenn Stanton’s article in National Review magazine. Also, for numerous publications and research that support marriage, please visit the Marriage and Religion Research’s website.