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My view is that if cohabiting is benign or good for couples and children, all this should be reflected in the outcomes — cohabiting adults should be famous for staying together, happily and faithfully, raising their children, prospering and growing old together. Think millions of Goldie Hawns and Kurt Russells.

Instead, the reality of U.S. cohabiting is more fully witnessed in America’s black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where cohabiting has almost fully replaced marriage. Anyone who says cohabiting is not playing a major role in the repeated cycles of poverty, antisocial behavior and family heartache just isn’t living in the real world.

And discussions of birthrates, marriage rates and welfare programs don’t even get into the most important reasons America should fully resist widespread cohabiting. Cohabiting hurts.

Next week: It’s all about the heart.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at