Report: Cohabitating Couples Put Off Marriage to Avoid Divorce

A report from the Pew Research Center found that marriage rates have fallen to all-time low levels with the number of married couples only slightly greater than singles. Those who do marry are also tying the knot later in life. A companion study published in December probed the reasons why couples in Texas and elsewhere are hesitating to marry.

The most-mentioned motive for marriage deferment among cohabitating couples in the Family Relations survey was divorce. More than 80 of the 122 couples interviewed voluntarily mentioned having anxieties about divorce, although the subject was never part of the survey. Sixty-seven percent of the single couples were concerned that a failed marriage would damage their emotional, social, financial or legal well-being. The overwhelming majority of couples looked forward to marriage cautiously, claiming that it was necessary to take time to find “the one” partner who would commit permanently.

Middle-class and working-class couples’ responses were tallied separately, according to income and education guidelines. Working-class females were least enthusiastic about marriage. Many mentioned feeling that marriage could be an inescapable, economic-dependency trap.

Working-class women feared the costs of divorce and the added chores that might be heaped upon them if they married. The group was twice as vocal about potential marriage and subsequent divorce problems as middle-class women, who worried more about finding a committed mate and social expectations.

Some couples admitted that they put off getting married because of divorces they had witnessed among friends or parents. Middle-class couples were more likely than working-class couples to see cohabitation as a proving ground for marriage.

For those worried about the cost of a divorce, there are avenues, such as signing a prenuptial agreement or agreeing to a no-fault divorce, that could keep a divorce out of court and reduce costs.

Source: Fox News, “Couples Avoid Marriage Because They Fear Divorce,” Dec. 21, 2011

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