If increased divorce was one result of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, another ominous trend accelerated even more dramatically: the number of couples living together outside of marriage.
Of American men born between 1933 and 1942, 84.5 percent chose the traditional path of marriage before they set up home. Of women born during the same time period, the figure was 93.8 percent.
But, of men born between 1963 and 1974, only 33.9 percent chose marriage first. The figure for women born during that time was 35.3 percent. What at one time was called "living in sin" is now euphemistically called "living together."
An increasing number choose this way even though some have recognized this trend for what it really is, "the greatest destroyer of marriage in America,"(The New York Times news service.). The Times article also cited census figures from 1970 indicating that 520,000 couples were then cohabiting in the United States. In 1994 the figure had soared to 3.7 million. The article said that "most unions between American men and women now begin with cohabitation, not marriage . . ." Such marriages "have 50 percent higher disruption rates than marriages without premarital cohabitation," according to the same report.
In Britain, "seven in 10 young couples live together for an average of two years before marrying . . . The number opting for trial marriages before formalising ties has increased [by a factor of] 14 times in 25 years" Daily Telegraph , June 14, 1995). GN