I recently finished reading the book The Ring Makes All The Difference by Glenn T. Stanton. The book addresses one of the hottest topics of the day - cohabitation vs. marriage. In the book Stanton, who is a Christian, tackles the topic, not primarily from a religious standpoint, but rather from a scientific/sociological one. He does intentionally (which will be addressed in a moment) this with the benefit of research over a long period of time and across a very broad spectrum of people around the world from all kinds of backgrounds. We no longer have to wonder about the differences between marriage and the cohabitation, because the evidence is in.
In the book, Stanton points to scientific evidence, which I appreciated, because even if someone does not have a religious persuasion, the book can be helpful as the evidence can speak for itself. Stanton reserves any religious mentions (save one reference to the union of Adam and Eve) until the very end of the book citing that Christians need not be afraid of science because in reality, if it proves to be true, then it has its origin in God who is truth.
My only comment is that I believe that relationships are more than a science - there is very much a spiritual reality to them, and ultimately decisions about relationships, in my opinion, need to be made with a deep conviction that goes beyond a formula. In other words, in comparing the realities of both cohabitation and marriage - both the pros and the cons - I believe it's important for people (especially if they consider themselves to be followers of Christ) to approach relationships not for what they can get out of them, but for what they can give to them. This is the way of Jesus and addresses the fundamental problem that leads to the breakdown of the majority of relationships, marriage or otherwise: selfishness. Stanton addresses this in the book, but I simply want to highlight that the success of relationships is based on two people coming together to serve one anther and grow together. One ought not read the book and say, "Well, this seems to be the lesser of two evils based on the evidence, so I'll just get married." In this regard the spiritual matters he addresses at the end are most important and foundational.
This book is a good read with lots of food for thought with scientific evidence to back up the claims. It also includes discussion questions for couples or small groups at the end of each chapter. It would be very beneficial for people in many different groups: Those who are young adults (and I would even say juniors and seniors in high school) so that they know the realities of moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend before they find themselves confronted with that decision; those who are already living together, whether they have thoughts of eventually marrying or not; those who are separated or divorced; those who have children affected by blended homes (parents married or not); and people who have friends or people they want to broach the subject with in an informed way.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.