'Early Show' Panelists on Marriage: 'Who Wants to Sign up for That?'

Apparently unmarried men don't have to bother ‘putting a ring on it' anymore.

A CBS' "Early Show" panel on June 23 made marriage look like an obsolete tradition by  highlighting several couples who've cohabited for years-with little or no intentions of ever saying "I do."

CBS co-host Erica Hill cited statistics showing a record-high 6.4 million couples currently cohabitate in the United States.

"This is a cautious generation," Seligson explained to Hill. "They want to get it right, and they want to make sure that this is the person with whom they can spend the next 60 or 70 years."

"Early Show" guest panelists Dr. Robi Ludwig of Care.com and Brian Balthazar of Popgoestheweek.com supported this shift in cultural attitude. Balthazar pointed out that to many individuals, particularly those whose families have experienced divorce, marriage has a less-than-sparkly image.

"They say, why do I want to put myself through that?" Balthazar explained. "If I love my partner, why do I feed a piece of paper and spend a lot of money?" He credited the trend to an "instant update society. I don't know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow let alone a week. People stayed at the same job for 20 years. Now that never happens. People are thinking, marriage forever? The vows are honor and obey? Who wants to sign up for that?"

Ludwig said cohabitation provides a way to experiment with marriage without the burden of commitment. "Living together really always gives the person the option to get out," she said. "And also it's like a trial for marriage. So you're trying out to be a husband, you're trying out to be a wife. Most of the time it's a wife trying out, like, ‘Do you want me to be your wife?'

Balthazar called cohabitation "a great test run." He cited comedian Groucho Marx, who is credited with saying, "Marriage is a good institution. But who want to live in an institution?"

Despite the guest panelists' efforts to characterize marriage as antiquated, Hill never mentioned the ways that marriage benefits both the couple and their children.

Hill also never mentioned the numerous studies compiled by groups like The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family and  that indicate the damaging results that cohabitation has on marriage (for couples who eventually plan on getting married), or the effect that this non-committal take on relationships can have on children reared in homes lacking the structure of marriage.

This isn't the first time "The Early Show" has promoted cohabitation without mentioning the downsides. On March 9, host Harry Smith neglected to ask author Hannah Seligson about the consequences of cohabitation in a discussion of her book, "A Little Bit Married."