Stories from the news: Growing number of de facto relationships



According to a recent news story (source: January 3rd, 2016 — Canberra Times):

Sixteen per cent of Australian couples now live in a de facto relationship, according to the latest census, up from 10 per cent fifteen years ago. The proportion of cohabiting couples who are unmarried and have children has risen from 4 per cent to 11 per cent.

. . . it's actually women who are driving this massive social change. They're not hardline feminazis raging against a patriarchal institution but bright, practical, independent women who can't see what difference a wedding would make to the security and stability of their partnership.

Educated, making their own money and enjoying sexual freedom, these women are proud their social status is no longer tied to their marital status.  The liberation of women includes the idea that women are free to make choices about everything – including fertility and cohabitation – that their own mothers did not feel free to make," social researcher Hugh Mackay notes.

That stereotype [of women desperate to marry] is completely wrong. Overwhelmingly women are taking the power of making that decision themselves.”

It might be because they'd prefer to spend their money on a house than "the big day", they've been burnt in the past by divorce, or because they don't have any religious beliefs which necessitate a blessing of their union. Many women say they just don't need a marriage certificate to validate their relationship.

"I've always been a bit nonplussed about marriage," Emily Cooper says. "I know we're going to be together forever, we love each other, we're one 100 per cent committed. We own property together, all our finances are shared. Even if we were married it would be a very similar situation in our day-to-day lives."


In the last 20 years there has been a growing acceptances of de-facto relationships and many children are now born to parents who are not legally married and most people in our society do not care or even think twice about it. 


"In 1960 only 5 per cent of babies were born outside marriage, rising to 12 per cent in 1980. The term "born out of wedlock" has become an anachronism in the 21st century, with a third of children born outside marriage in 2011."

With our current laws (certainly in Australia) — living in either a de-facto or legal marriage is  identical in the eyes of the law. The only differences is during seperation  — a de-facto relationship can avoid the cost of a "divorce" unless they have children and property and it can be just as messy as any legal divorce — custody battles can be as bitter and as nasty and no matter the marital status of the parents, all the children suffer.

Interestedly "A de facto relationship is up to five times more likely than a marriage to end within five years, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies"

According to a 2009 study, "Despite its increasing prevalence, cohabitation is a relatively unstable living arrangement as evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of couples either marry or separate within the first few years of the union. Indeed, the probability of cohabitation ending in separation rather than marriage has increased." (source: ABC Factcheck)

Many enter de-facto relationships because they are concerned with the issues of marriage and divorce (often witnessing their own parents separation) and think that co-habilitation is more stable. However, all the evidences points to de-facto relationships being far less stable compared to legal marriages and many more end in separation. For all those who believe that marriage and co-habitating are the same thing — they are quite clearly are not. Sadly children get caught up in the middle of these separations — and many are suffering the consequences of family break-down and we know from evidence that this is detrimental to children and their long term well-being.  

As we move further and further away from Christ and His Word, the more we will see the growth of de-facto relationships and less Christian based marriages. We will continue to see divorces (or de-facto separations) as the norm with couples not really serious about staying together forever. The bible is our life manual and it is clear about marriage and the  commitment that we make when we marry. Excluding those marriages that are violent which I can fully understand a woman wanting to leave — many leave because they "fall out of love" and that to me is all a bit weak but sums up todays society. And whilst I support women obtaining higher education and working (for the right reasons) — sadly, this desire for independences, ambition and control and not following women's biblical roles has had a very negative affect on traditional marriages and families and this is not good for society as we are seeing. 

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
 And obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)

Comments

  1. It is truly a sad commentary on our society. I've been so grieved to see it in America. I didn't realize it was happening to that degree in your country as well.
    Laura

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    1. I think it is happening everywhere sadly and the more it happens the more accepting it becomes and then it becomes the norm.

      Have a wonderful week :)

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  2. I believe that we have been fooled to believe that cohabitation is a good way to see if a relationship works (and, if it does, choose marriage) but it is actually a really bad idea because having sex before making a commitment creates a bond that makes very difficult to see clearly and living together makes leaving very difficult, even when it is clear that a relationship doesn't work. Also, a ended cohabitation looks more like a divorce (even if there aren't children involved).
    Researchs show that couples that cohabitate are more likely to divorce.

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    1. I don't think couples understand what commitment really means these days. Its all rather sad.

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  3. Oh that silly idea of seeing if the relationship works. What a laugh. I know many a couple who lived together before marriage. All the signs were there that they were NOT a good match but they married any way and divorced not long after. So what good did that little "test" do if they ignored the signs anyway? What silly logic!

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    1. It is and some go on and have children whilst cohabiting - that to me is more than "testing" because at that point there is no going back. It gets all very messy and painful for all concerned sadly.

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  4. It's so very sad but so very prevalent around the world. I notice the article mentioned people devaluing marriage because of what they saw in their parents' marriage or divorce. How important it is for all of us to model Godly relationships for the children in our lives!

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    1. It is so true - this is why we need to model good marriages so our children see it first hand and others too. We need to set the example :))

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  5. Sadly it's what is happening in Italy too ...
    It's too bad, ethically and for children too, what kind of example can we give them without God's blessing ?
    Thank you for this reflexion, my dearest Jo,
    have a lovely remainder of you week !
    Sending love to you
    Dany

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    1. I watched an interesting cooking documentary a while ago by two elderly Australian chefs who had come to Australia from Italy (where they were born). They returned to Italy and noticed the change in women in particular who are not as interested in family or cooking any more and felt it was sad to see the breakdown in the traditional Italian families and the things that once help families stay together such as food, eating children and gathering together.

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  6. my sister is almost 30, cohabiting with her boyfriend of 11(!) years, and has no intention to get married anytime soon. She says she hasn't 'lived' yet. Funny, when my husband and I knew we wanted to be married at 25 I couldn't imagine not being bound to him in some way. Marriage was a beautiful ceremony that we wanted to share, to celebrate our love and a gift to give each other. We wanted to be completely one with each other, in the eyes of the church, the law, and share the same name. I don't know why women these days don't want that. Society is lying to them. I still have a hot career making almost six-figures, I take care of the home in the evenings, and I'm as independent from a 'feminist' stand-point as they come. And yet I can still be a gentle, traditional wife... and it's blissful. Thank you for your blog. I love it.

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    1. My son and his girlfriend (at the time) were not going to get married - why marry they say, living together is just the same. To my surprise and delight, they both decided to get married as it showed the world they were committed and it was a demonstration of their love and the importances they put upon their relationship. They have now been married 3.5 years and are having a great time "living" but just doing it together and in fact it is far more fun doing it together than seperate. They love having fun together and sharing the joy - why do some thinking "living" stops when you get married - its all very strange.

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  7. An interesting, though sad, read. One thing I dislike about our modern idea of weddings is the excess that some people think is necessary. There is no reason why a couple can't have a small, inexpensive wedding that doesn't "break the bank." My husband and I had one ourselves.

    Another thing I've had concerns about for awhile is the whole "falling in love" concept. It sounds as if it's something over which we have no control, and therefore, one might just as easily "fall out of love" or "fall in love with someone else" which, of course, leads to heartbreak and tragedy. It's a very poor way of thinking in my opinion.

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    1. People can spend thousands and thousands ($50,000) on a wedding and it makes NO sense to me at all. Its crazy for something that only lasts a few hours. But until cheap weddings become trendy, its not likely to change.

      "Fallling in love" is the easy bit staying in love is the hard bit (Wednesday blog post looks at this) - and no one wants to work hard any more to stay married, disciple their children etc....

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  8. Great article. I would think a defacto relationship would feel less stable because there isn't really anything to encourage staying (and obviously faith is not what holds it together). Too sad.

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    1. Very true - but when they seperate, they often still have all the same mess as married couples have.

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  9. Marriage is important. Even though the majority may move in a different direction change can happen from the minority remaining strong and united.

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  10. There's several things in here that irritate me - things that irritate you too, I know! The "try before I buy" mentality that leads to living together before marrying is absolutely ridiculous... Falling in love and falling out of love is absolutely ridiculous (they don't even know what true love is - I can say that with a certainty because the Scriptures say GOD is love and those who love God in truth know that love involves work and a conscious decision daily!)...
    But, on the other hand, when we speak of those who are unbelievers... why should we be surprised that they live in a pagan fashion? They are not trying to live up to God's standards, nor should we expect them to! Marriage originates with God, so it is no surprise that unbelievers don't care about it. That doesn't make it any less sad though - and especially for the children who never asked to be in such situations of instability and ungodliness. :(

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    1. Its really interesting that the statistics show time and again that de facto relationships just aren't as stable however most de facto couples don't believe it when you tell them. Unbelievers do look at this very differently so it isn't unexpected BUT its the children that suffer from the breakdowns of these relationships, which is sad.

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