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The Piece of Paper Matters

John on July 13, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Whenever the subject of cohabitation comes up, I recall the scene from the 80s version of Flash Gordon where Ming forces Dale Arden to marry him. The “minister” says:

Do you promise to love, honor and cherish her so long as you both shall live…

[Ming gives a disapproving glance]

…until you become bored with her and decide to flush her into space.

With that in mind, my friend Scott over at Magic Statistics has a post up about the dismay being created by a recent study of cohabitation. Not surprisingly, those who “live together” have a far, far higher rate of break up:

[H]alf of all cohabitees’ relationships last less than a year and 90 per cent end within five years, mostly because couples broke up.

Those aren’t good odds. Of course the anti-marriage crowd is always quick to point out that these same couples might have broken up if they’d married. Sorry, no. Let’s think about this for a moment.

The widely accepted figure of 50% of all marriages ending in divorce has problems. For one thing, that number is inflated quite a bit by people who marry and divorce several times. My father in law, who married four times, comes to mind. Other studies have suggested that the success rate of first-time marriages may be over 85%.

So even though it’s probably off by 25% or more for first time marriages, let’s use the 50% figure. Half of all marriage end in divorce. But according to the study above, 90% of cohabiting relationships end in 5 years. That’s a huge difference. And please, please don’t try to tell me that all of that is a selection effect. There’s no way people are that smart about their personal lives. No, I’m sorry, but what you have here is a lot of men lying their asses off.

“Let’s just take it slow and see where this goes…” or my all time favorite, “What does it matter if we have a piece of paper?” I’ve actually heard a guy say that about his live in girlfriend. I winced.

Ladies, I want to speak to you because…well, you just need help, that’s all. So listen up cause what I’m about to say is important and you will not here this from that buff stud at the bar whose tyring to get your number.

Men are scum. S-C-U-M. All of us. I know whereof I speak, believe me. There is only one thing that keeps us from being complete scum and that’s you. Ladies, you are the civilizing influence. And the moment you cease to be civilized there is no hope for anything good or lasting to happen. None. Bottom line: Cohabitation is not the glidepath to marriage, it’s the glidepath to years of wasted time with a bum to whom you shouldn’t have given a day.

So next time you here the “piece of paper” line, try deploying this little question in response: Would you rent out your house without a lease signed by the tenant? Don’t let him weasel out of it by saying he doesn’t own a rental house. It’s a simple hypothetical question. If you did own a house, perhaps a nice beach bungalow with wood floors…would you rent it out without a signed lease?

If he says yes then he’s either a complete idiot or a liar. Either way, you’re better off without him. If he is honest and admits that he’d want a lease, ask him why you deserve less for handing him the keys to your body. Then watch as his interest in you wanes and he slinks away to go looking for someone quite a bit more stupid (or drunk) than you are.


The piece of paper protects both parties, but especially the one with the most to lose. Ladies, don’t let the scum drag you down.

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Category: Marriage & Family |

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