Family life : Before marriage Last Updated: Feb 8th, 2011 - 05:50:02

Living Together before Marriage – the Theological and Pastoral Opportunities
By Adrian Thatcher
Oct 10, 2009, 10:00
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Source: Adrian's Website






A presentation at the International Marriage Conference, at the College of St Mark and St John, Thursday June 26, 2000

The phrase ‘living together before marriage’ makes certain basic assumptions . One of these is that marriage is a temporal event which gives credence to talk of ‘before’ and ‘after’: another is that this event is singular (i.e., the only one offered, which fulfils several functions); another is that the event decides when, in a couple’s life they can start living together and having sex. In this presentation I shall argue that these assumptions turn out to be liberatingly false, thereby creating ironic opportunities for the churches to recover their traditions and re-shape their marriage ministries to accord more with the gospel and with the real lives of marrying Christians.


What then is the argument? Much of it is based on an analysis of the practice of living together before marriage (the long section 2). Unless a serious prior attempt is made to comprehend the social situation to which theology hopes to speak, it had better say nothing. The ‘re-visioning’ of the entry into marriage I propose depends on the recovery of the practice of betrothal both in the Bible and in Eastern and Western churches (section 3). The combination of the social analysis of living together and the historical analysis of Christian marital tradition leads to proposals for liturgical innovation (section 4) and for developing theological and pastoral opportunities among pre-married people (section 5). In section 1 there is an important caveat about what ‘living together’ means.


Photo: Oleg K,


1. The big divide: ‘pre-nuptial’ and ‘non-nuptial’ cohabitation

A basic distinction must first be made between people who intend marriage and live together first, and people who live together with no intention of marriage. This is the distinction between ‘pre-nuptial’ and ‘non-nuptial’ cohabitation. 70% of marrying couples in the UK lived together before their first marriage in the early 90s (the figure is rising, and is higher still for people intended further marriage). Many more lived together but did not marry (more about them below). While wishing to incorporate pre-nuptial living together into a Christian framework of marriage, it is difficult to see how Christian traditions could ever incorporate non-nuptial cohabitation into a marital framework. Being ‘non-nuptial’ it excludes itself from marriage.


2. The ‘guide’ to living together

What then do we know about living together as a prolegomenon to theological work? Sociologists and demographers have been studying it for the last 20 years so there is a wealth of material available. Here are ten propositions about living together, and I admit in advance that only the last of them can be used in support of the argument of this paper.[1]


1. In many countries more people enter marriage from cohabitation than from the single state. In the early 90s cohabitation remained illegal in some states in the USA. By the late 90s about 70% of first-time marrying couples lived together first. Many of these couples maintain separate residences. In the jargon they are ‘living apart together’. They are ‘LATs’. This is known in France as ‘semi-cohabitation’. Neither is the practice of informal cohabitation confined to industrialized or ‘first world’ countries. In parts of South America there are more informal unions than formal marriages.


2. Cohabitors are as likely to return to singleness as to enter marriage. These are the ones we don’t hear so much about, yet in the early 90s about as many cohabitees broke up as went on to marry. Data from the British Household Panel Survey (which has followed a sample of 10,000 adults annually since 1991) predicts that out of every 20 cohabiting couples, 11 will marry, 8 will separate, and 1 will remain intact after 10 years.[2]


3. Cohabitation has weakened the connection between marriage and parenthood since the 1970s. A startling discovery was made in the early 90s which has enormous consequences for family formation well into the third millennium. Jane Lewis and Kathleen Kiernan postulated two major changes in Britain with regard to ‘reproductive behaviour’ in the previous 30 years.[3] The first was a widespread separation of sex and marriage which happened in the 1960s. The second was a widespread separation of marriage from parenthood, which happened in the 80s and gathered pace in the 90s. The first of these was greeted by social commentators and radical theologians with optimism: the second ‘has given rise to moral panic about lone motherhood’.[4] The key to both changes is the declining importance of marriage. According to this thesis when an unmarried couple conceived in the 60s, they generally married. In the early 70s, when an unmarried couple conceived they generally either married or had an abortion. Living together as a prelude to marriage ‘began in the 1970s’. In the late 70s and early 80s, an unmarried couple upon conception opted increasingly for an abortion or an illegitimate birth. The 90s has seen a confirmation of this trend. But in the 90s 70% of women marrying for the first time had cohabited before marriage compared with only 6% in the late 60s. Cohabitation is therefore ‘inextricably linked’ both to the decline of marriage and the increase in childbearing outside it.


4. Some people choose cohabitation as an alternative to marriage, not as a preparation or ‘trial’ for it. They avoid it for different reasons, perhaps from a scrupulous boycott of a failing patriarchal institution, or because of dating behaviour described as ‘sex without strings, relationships without rings’.[5]


5. ‘Trial-marriages’ are unlikely to work. There are plenty of difficulties with trial-marriages, best exposed by asking what is being tried. Some cohabitors are trying out whether they can bare living with someone else - they are trying out whether living together is better than living alone. Others are trying out their suitability for marriage - called (in the trade) the ‘weeding hypothesis’. Only ‘those cohabiting couples who find themselves to be well suited and more committed to marriage go on to marry’. The rest weed themselves out or are weeded out by the experience. [6] But all the research shows that the likelihood of divorce increases with the incidence of previous cohabitation. The unconditional love which in Christian marriage reflects Christ’s love for the Church (Eph.5.25) cannot be nourished in a context where it can be terminated if ‘things don’t work out’.


6. Men, in particular, are likely to be less committed to the female partners they live with, and much less committed than women to any children of the partnership. In 1996 extensive research showed that ‘the substitution of cohabitation for marriage is a story of lower commitment of women to men and even more so of men to women and to their relationship as an enduring unit’.[7] While men wanted sex and female companionship, they did not want them within a family-making context, and they also valued the amassing of consumer items which took economic preference over household commitments. Men have ‘greatly increased aspirations for expensive consumer goods such as new cars, stereophonic equipment, vacation homes, and recreational vehicles’ and they prefer these to the responsibilities of settling into a new family. The authors found that ‘although marriage is declining in centrality in both men’s and women’s lives, the centrality of parenthood is declining far more in men’s lives’. There has been ‘a retreat from children’ and most of it has been on the part of men.[8]


7. Cohabitors with children are very likely to split up. Unmarried couples with children are much less likely to proceed to marry than couples without children. Work done on the Canadian Family and Friends Survey in 1990 showed that the ‘presence and number of children within cohabitation have a strong negative influence on separation for both sexes’ and ‘a strong negative effect on the transition to marriage.’[9] Work done in Britain for the Research Centre on Micro-social Change (1997) concluded ‘that direct comparison between first children born in a cohabitation and those born in a marriage shows that the former are much more likely to end up with only one parent. Starting from the birth of the first child, half of the cohabiting parents have separated within ten years, compared with only an eighth of parents who were married before the baby was born.’[10]


8. Children raised by cohabiting couples are likely to be worse off than children raised by married parents. Children of cohabiting parents are worse off economically; they are more vulnerable physically. Cohabiting couples are more violent to each other than married couples. Robert Whelan’s study, based on British data in the 1980s showed that children of cohabiting parents were 20 times more likely to be subject to child abuse. If children lived with their mother and their mother’s boy friend who is not their father, they were 33 times more likely to suffer abuse than if they lived with their parents.[11]‘The most unsafe of all family environments for children is that in which the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father. This is the environment for the majority of children in cohabiting couple households.’[12]


9. The extent of cohabitation may reinforce the belief that all intimate relationships are fragile and transient. New research suggests that attitudes to marriage are negatively influenced by cohabitation. The experience of successive cohabitation impacts on attitudes to marriage, making marriage less likely, or if it happens, less successful.[13] Popenoe and Whitehead conclude that ‘The act of cohabitation generates changes in people’s attitudes to marriage that make the stability of marriage less likely. Society wide, therefore, the growth of cohabitation will tend to further weaken marriage as an institution.’[14] There may then be a serious compound effect of cohabitation on the wider societies where it is practised. If so, this become a strong reason for arguing that the process of legal recognition of cohabitation should be halted.


10. People who live together with their  partner before they marry value fidelity almost as much as married people do. Once the distinction is made between pre-nuptial and non-nuptial cohabitors the differences in relationship quality noted earlier (above: proposition 8) disappear. ‘Cohabitors with marriage plans are involved in unions that are not qualitatively different from those of their married counterparts’.[15] The finding led the researchers to conclude that for this group of cohabitors ‘cohabitation is very much another form of marriage’.[16] Cohabitors intending marriage ‘likely view their current living arrangements as a stepping stone to marriage or as a temporary arrangement until marriage is practicable.’[17] European Union research in 1993 showed that 66.5% of married respondents and 62.9% of cohabiting respondents, endorsed the statement that ‘Getting married means committing yourself to being faithful to your partner’. However, less than half of those who had previously cohabited and were currently cohabiting or single, endorsed the statement.[18] This finding contributed to the conclusion that ‘it is the issue of commitment which appears to be central to understanding the greater instability of marriages preceded by cohabitation.’




Armed with the important distinction between pre-nuptial and non-nuptial cohabitation it is possible to see how the abandoned practice of betrothal would restore a sense of order and direction to living together before marriage. The rite of betrothal is retained in the churches of the East (where it is combined with marriage in a single lengthy rite). It was deprived of legal recognition by the Council of Trent in 1563 and in England and Wales only in 1753 (by the passing of the Hardwicke Marriage Act which had nothing to do with theology and everything to do with property). One needs to borrow the methods of retrieval, pioneered by feminist theology, to recoverbetl, since, having been written out of marital scripts for a couple of centuries or more, even the most astute theologians barely refer to it and thereby unwittingly confirm its demise.


1. Betrothal in the Bible

An early intimation of oddness might be the thoroughly biblical character of betrothal. Given the importance of the Bible in all forms of Protestantism (I speak self-deprecatingly, as one) , a strange phenomenon emerges - Protestant marital practice does not conform to biblical norms (meagre though these are). Marital practice is a severely truncated and impoverished version of medieval rites (lamentably reductionist in the eyes of the Orthodox). There are 5 cases of couples becoming married in the Bible. All of them are betrothed first. They are Rebecca and Isaac (Gen.24), Rachel and Jacob (Gen.29), Zipporah and Moses (Ex.2), Sarah and Tobias (Tobit 6-7) and Mary and Joseph (Mt.1).


If betrothal is not the beginning of marriage, then Mary and Joseph were not married at the time of the conception and birth of Jesus. Whether they were married depends upon a prior view of when marriage begins. Aquinas and his contemporaries could not have allowed that the Mother of God had undergone the inevitable impurities of sexual intercourse, even with her husband. However the adoption of the consent theory of marriage allowed them to be considered married since sexual intercourse was inessential to the marriage. Indeed, the ‘marriage’ of Mary and Joseph was a major influence on the consent theory. What the consent theory did not do was explain how Jesus was born before the nuptials had taken place. So the question whether the marriage was ‘a true marriage’ remained. Aquinas held a marriage was true if it conformed to its true purpose of producing and training children.[19] The sexless marriage of Mary and Joseph was therefore a true marriage, Aquinas argued, perhaps without knowledge of where his argument was taking him. If he is right about then, then the ideal marriage is a sexless one. It also follows that there are true marriages which do not need and do not receive liturgical ceremony. This view would seem to endorse millions of informal marriages, past, present and future..


2. Recovering the place of betrothal in New Testament theology

Betrothal is the assumed means of entry into marriage in the Bible, and in Greek and Roman custom. It is also assumed in the marital imagery of the New Testament. St Paul compares the Corinthian church to a bride betrothed but not yet presented to Christ her ‘true and only husband’. (2 Cor.11.2-3) It is likely that the lengthy story of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman (Jn.4.1-42) is to be understood as a betrothal story because it relies on the literary conventions found in the betrothals of Rebecca, Rachel and Zipporah. John the Baptist explains he is the ‘forerunner’ of Jesus and compares his relationship to Jesus as one of ‘best man’ to bridegroom. But who is the bride? The betrothal conventions include


1.     The hero travels to a foreign land far away.

2.    The hero stops at a well.

3.    A maiden comes to the well.

4.    Hero does something for the maiden, showing superhuman strength or ability.

5.    The maiden hurries home and reports what has occurred.

6.    The stranger is invited into the household of the maiden.

7.    Hero marries maiden-at-the-well. (He will eventually take her back to his native land.)’[20]


Jesus too, travels to a foreign land, Samaria. He too stops at a well, Jacob’s well. A woman comes to the well. Unlike Rebecca and Rachel whose striking physical and virginal attributes are remarked on by male gazers and authors, the Samaritan woman has had 5 husbands and a live-in lover. Jesus, like Abraham’s servant, asks her for a drink. Abraham’s servant gives gifts to Rebecca (Gen.24.22) and her family (24.53). Jesus has ‘living water’ to offer the woman (Jn.4.10). Just as Rebecca ‘ran to her mother’s house’ (Gen.24.28), Rachel ‘ran and told her father (Gen.29.12), and the 7 daughters of Reuel returned to him (Ex.2.18), so the Samaritan woman ‘left her water-jar and went off to the town, where she said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”’ (Jn.4.29)


There are other parallels which cannot detain us. In this narrative it is Jesus, not the woman, who has water to offer, and even Samaritans are welcome to drink it. Even the final convention, that of marriage, is not exactly neglected, just adjusted. Jesus does not marry the woman but union with him is possible, even for a Samaritan woman with a chaotic love-life. The use of ‘We know’ (oidamen: ‘we... know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world’ - AV) at 4.42 can bear the suggestion of a sexual, marital union, along with the more cognitive sense of being ‘convinced’. The very gift of salvation is to be understood as the self-gift of marriage. It provides a katabatic theology of betrothal in which God takes the initiative of self-giving to all humanity in a relationship of infinite love that is finitely lived out in the loving commitments that make marriage. Christ is the bridegroom. There are no worries about virginal status here. The woman who appears in the guise of his betrothed at the well is immoral, and aware that Jews regard her racial origin as inferior (4.9). Unlike the brides of Ezekiel and Ephesians who have to be prepared by the beautician in order to be made ready for the nuptial ceremonies, this woman does not conform to type. Such is the depth of the love of God for humanity that no-one is excluded on grounds of religion, sex or race. Christ in offering them living water offers himself. Like all the other encounters that began at a well and led to betrothal and the union of marriage, the encounter with Christ the bridegroom leads to a union of faith and knowledge which has its counterparts in betrothed love. An adequate understanding of the narrative becomes achievable once forgotten betrothal practice is recovered and built into it.


3. 2 Ceremonies - SPOUSALS and NUPTIALS

Marriage liturgies presume two occasions, each marked by appropriate rites and social events. The first is the spousals which Gratian identified as matrimonium initiatum or the beginning of marriage. This constituted the intention to enter, at a future time, an irrevocable and permanent pledge of union. It was a conditional promise rendered unconditional by nuptials or solemnization of the marriage. The promise was made in the future tense - de futuro. Sexual intercourse, or the marriage liturgy (whichever came first!) rendered the conditional promise unconditional. Vows were made in the present tense - de praesenti. This was matrimonium ratum. Aquinas is clear that betrothal is dissoluble.[21] One ground of dissolution is mutual consent (so if the couple go off each other, no harm is done!).


4. 2 sets of vows (future and present tenses)

An ‘archaeological’ reading of the Alternative Service Book 1980 of the Church of England Marriage Service reveals a fragment of the old betrothal vows of the first millennium. The bride and bridegroom are each asked two sequential questions. These are: to the bridegroom, ‘N, will you take N to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?’: and, to the bride, ‘N, will you take N to be your husband? Will you love him, comfort him, honour and protect him, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?’ The answer is ‘I will’, and then in words of the present tense each of them performatively ‘takes’ the other with the words ‘I take you to be my wife’ or husband. It may be doubted whether many clergy and marrying couples are aware that the future tense of the question ‘Will you take...?’ and the future tense of the response ‘I will’ is a tangible relic of the first millennium, when the vows, orweds, or troths were exchanged by the betrothed in anticipation of their nuptial ceremony sometime in the future. The future and present tenses stain retain a ‘trace’ of the verba de futuro and verba de praesenti of another age. The Alternative Service Book closely follows the 1662 Book of Common Prayer which also requires responses first in the future, and then in the present tense. Where does that come from? It comes from the future tense question in the early Sarum manual, ‘Wilt thou have this woman to thy wife?’ (with variations in the question put to the woman), and the answer (of both), ‘I will’. It can hardly be doubted, says one historian, ‘that we see here a survival from a time when the promise of espousal was held to be sufficiently ratified, even after a considerable, by the nuptial ceremony following’.[22]



A.R. Harcus has described how he uses the first calling of the banns as an occasion for a ‘fuller Betrothal ceremony in which the couple formally announce their intent and their families and the congregation, as representative of society at large, also acknowledge their role and responsibilities (an appropriate liturgy is supplied).[23] Kenneth Stevenson translates several such rites from Eastern sources.[24] Once the betrothal rite is restored, the present marriage service would also be restored, de facto, to its previous position in the couple’s life-history, as a culmination of a process rather than a singular event licensing talk of ‘before’ and ‘after’ a marriage. The ‘solemnization of marriage’ as the Book of Common Prayer calls it, restores the supposition that a marriage already exists, and that it has now reached the point of no return, of unconditional promise which requires the blessing of God and continuing divine grace to sustain it


A huge pastoral advantage of the double rite is that the passage from singleness to marriage is marked in the couple’s story. Once betrothed they are no longer single. They are beginning marriage, but the unconditional commitment which marriage assumes has precisely not yet been required of them by the church, by their families and friends, or by each other. They grow into this as men and women grow into their vocations as monks and nuns, leaving final vows to the consummation of a long process. Arnold Van Gennep, in Les Rites de Passage[25] has established that for a rite to be a genuine rite of passage, three stages need to be involved in it. These are ‘separation, liminality, and incorporation’. The older scheme provided this. At betrothal the couple mark themselves off as no longer single, while preparing themselves for the unconditional obligations of marriage. This middle ground is precisely ‘liminality’, the state of being on the threshold of marriage. People marrying today are offered a rite for only the third stage of the process. Kenneth Stevenson (the present Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth) has drawn attention to the inadequacies of the liturgical provision of the Western churches. He thinks that there is a ‘deep structure’ to marriage which was once provided for liturgically and now no longer is: that proposed liturgical changes (he wrote this in 1987) amount to playing around with surface meanings instead of addressing the theological and psychological hiatus; that marriage liturgies once catered for the deep needs of the human spirit and no longer do.[26] I agree with this. I think the present efforts of the churches to commend marriage are right, but reluctantly conclude this is proceeding without any real grasp either of the deep meanings of the theological or liturgical past or the deep social sognificance of the demographic trends of the present.



I hope that by now the theological and pastoral opportunities provided by the growing practice of living together are suggesting themselves. Non-nuptial cohabitation is unlikely ever to be thought consistent with Christian faith if only because God wills only what is best for us, and there good reasons for thinking that these arrangements are not the best for us, and particularly not the best for women and children. The distinction between pre-nuptial and non-nuptial cohabitation may be precisely the catalyst that assists pastoral carers in helping pre-ceremonial couples honestly to review their relationships. There areempirical reasons for suggesting that if they do not intend marriage they may be harming themselves: there are theological reasons for suggesting that if they intend marriage they may already have begun it.


Whether or not betrothal is reinstated, recognition of it, even of the absence of it, draws attention to the processive character of marriage. It is a matter of growth where separately and together individuals grow towards each other. Marriage is a particular form of the Christian experience of new life in Christ, whereby endowment in the Christian virtues is a shared undertaking.


The Western emphases on consent and consummation provided a slight sense of process, but while they were capable of undergirding a theology of marriage at the start of the second millennium, they can no longer adequately do so at the start of the third. The idea that the essence of marriage lay in consent is largely a by-product of medieval debates about how the ‘marriage’ of the parents of Jesus Christ could be valid, perfect and sexless. If concensus facit matrimonium, then it is possible for a couple to be validly married without ever having touched each other (and that is precisely why the western churches taught it). This should be faced. The Orthodox churches regard the consent doctrine as reductionist and pointedly don’t have a place in the liturgies for it to be expressed. The Germanic churches (however sexist) regarded marriage as having begun as soon as the bride was handed over and began living with the groom. There are alternatives. Consummation provides important senses of completion or fruition, achievement and fulfillment, but it is very doubtful if the first act of sexual intercourse could ever achieve this. (Perhaps consummation as first intercourse is a product of the celibate mind that regarded having sex with a woman at all, as a dark achievement.) Consummation might be more appropriately located at the point in the couple’s life history where the decision to make long-life commitments to each other and to children becomes irrevocable. If the couple, then around this time they will want to go public about what’s happening.


In Marriage After Modernity[27] I offer some friendly criticisms of the Vatican document Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage,[28] precisely because it refuses to allow that sacramental grace can be experienced before the service of marriage. It is not only sex that we can’t have before the ceremony - we can’t have God’s grace either! The realization that things were once very different would allow the church to look for signs of God’s grace in the growing commitment of couples to each other, and in the painful searchings about whether to make it unconditional. ‘The exclusion of sacramentality from engagement seems to have disastrous pastoral consequences. The early flowering and blossoming mutual love is potentially one of the most graced times in people’s lives.’[29]


Finally I suggest the biblical symbols of marriage as a covenant and a union counterbalance each other and when allowed to do so create a biblical foundation for marital spirituality. ‘“Covenant” clearly maintains the separate identities of the spouses as they undertake a common project, whereas the one-flesh union clearly maintains their oneness, a union of heearts and lives.’ Spouses need to see themselves as ‘simultaneously separate persons and united partners, and to regard their separateness and togetherness as dialectically related’. Although now is not the time even to outline a theory of marital spirituality, the essence of it is the joint project of ‘each trying to love the other as God loves them both in Christ, and recognizing Christ in each other’. While marital spirituality cannot be derived from what I have said about betrothal, the connecting thread is the life-history of the couple and its goal according to Christian faith. The pre-ceremonial stage of a marriage is as significant as the instructional stage of a catechumen seeking baptism or a nun preparing to take her vows. Ceremonies are events along the way. Almost all models of spirituality in Christian faith (with highly notable exceptions) are provided by celibate males enduring the path of renunciation. I hope the present century will see an explosion of spiritual testimony whereby couples report becoming closer to God by becoming closer to one another.


I began by noting the growing phenomenon of living together and the prospects for a recovery of an earlier tradition of marriage. I hope to have shown there are ‘ironic opportunities’ for the churches to recover their traditions and re-shape their marriage ministries to accord more with the gospel and with the real lives of marrying Christians. If I am able to contribute to either of these tasks I shall be well content.


24 June 2000

[1] There is a longer and much more detailed list in my forthcoming Living Together and Christian Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

[2] Jonathan Gershuny and Richard Berthoud, New Partnerships? Men and Women in the 1990s (Economic and Social Research Council/University of Essex, 1997), p.4.

[3] Jane Lewis and Kathleen Kiernan, ‘The Boundaries Between Marriage, Nonmarriage, and Parenthood: Changes in Behavior and Policy in Postwar Britain’, Journal of Family History, 21 (July, 1996), pp.372-88. And see Jane Lewis, Marriage, Cohabitation and the Law: Individualism and Obligation (Lord Chancellor’s Department Research Secretariat, 1999), p.10.

[4] Lewis and Kiernan, ‘Boundaries’, p.372.

[5], 08.06.00. The report cited is Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, The State of our Unions 2000 (Rutgers, New Jersey: The National Marriage Project, 2000).

[6] See Lynda Clarke and Ann Berrington, ‘Socio-Demographic Predictors of Divorce’, in John Simons (ed.), High Divorce Rates: The State of the Evidence on Reasons and Remedies, Volume 1 (Lord Chancellor’s Department Research Secretariat, 1999), p.16. See the sources cited there.

[7] Frances K Goldscheider and Gayle Kaufman, ‘Fertility and Commitment: Bringing Men Back In’, Population and Development Review, 22 (supp.) (1996), p.89 (emphasis added).

[8] Goldscheider and Kaufman, ‘Fertility’, p.90. They complain that men are generally not considered in fertility studies and that little is known about men’s attitudes to fathering generally.

[9] Zheng Wu and T.R. Balakrishnan, ‘Dissolution of Premarital Cohabitation in Canada’, Demography, 32.4 (November 1995), p.528.

[10] Gershuny and Berthoud, New Partnerships?, p.5.

[11] Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children: A Study of the Relationship Between Child Abuse and Family Type (London: Family Educational Trust, 1993).

[12] David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know about Cohabitation before Marriage - A Comprehensive Review of Recent Research (The National Marriage Project, New Jersey: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1999), p.8. See also, Jon Davies, ‘Neither Seen nor Heard nor Wanted: The Child as Problematic. Towards an Actuarial Theology of Generation’, in Michael A. Hayes, Wendy Porter and David Tombs (ed.s), Religion and Sexuality (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), p.332.

[13] e.g., Alfred DeMaris and William MacDonald, ‘Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Instability: A Test of the Unconventional Hypothesis’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55 (May, 1993).

[14] Popenoe and Whitehead, Should We Live Together?, p.5.

[15] Susan L Brown and Alan Booth, ‘Cohabitation Versus Marriage: A Comparison of Relationship Quality’, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58 (August 1996), p.674 (emphasis added).

[16] Brown and Booth, ‘Cohabitation’, p.677. The group was actually 76% of the total of over 13,000 individuals surveyed (using data from the 1987-88 National Survey of Family and Households). In the 90s the numbers of cohabitors with marriage plans progressively diminished.

[17] Brown and Booth, ‘Cohabitation’, p.671.

[18] Eurostat, 1995, in Reynolds and Mansfield, ‘The Effect of Changing Attitudes’, pp.16-17.

[19] Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2a2ae.154.2.

[20] . James G. Williams, ‘The Beautiful and the Barren: Conventions in Biblical Type-Scenes’, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 17 (June, 1980), p.109.

[21] Summa TheologicaPart 3 (Supp.),

[22] T.A. Lacey, Marriage in Church and State, (London: Robert Scott, 1912), pp.48-9.

[23] A.R. Harcus, ‘Betrothal and Marriage’, The Expository Times, 109.3 (December, 1997), p.74.

[24] Kenneth W. Stevenson, To Join Together - The Rite of Marriage (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1987).

[25] Les Rites de Passage (Paris: Librarie Critique, Émile Mourry, 1990).

[26] Kenneth, W. Stevenson, To Join Together - The Rite of Marriage (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1987), p.8..

[27] Adrian Thatcher, Marriage After Modernity: Christian Marriage in Postmodern Times (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), p.242.

[28] Pontifical Council for the Family, Preparation for the Sacrament of  Marriage (Vatican City: Vatican Press, 1996). Section 47 states ‘Although still not in a sacramental way, Christ sustains and accompanies the journey of grace and growth of the engaged toward the participation in his mystery of union with the Church’ (emphasis added).

[29] Marriage After Modernity, p.242.


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