I ran across an infographic about cohabitation before marriage and thought it very interesting.
Religious views aside, many people claim living together can be justified because it’s convenient, makes it a great way to “test” a relationship before marriage, and allows you to really see how another person lives and handles situations on a daily basis.
Could cohabitation actually lead to more successful marriages? Are there negative consequences of pre-marital cohabitation for the long-term prospects of a relationship?
Of course, there are studies and views on both sides. According to Meg Jay from MyMove.com, an expert from the University of Virginia, there is a link between divorce and living together before marriage. There’s also a CDC study that basically states that cohabitation before marriage decreases the likelihood the marriage will last. Then there’s ThisIsYourConscience who believes it makes you immature to “Play House” before marriage.
On the other hand, in a survey conducted by the National Marriage Project, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.
In addition, “cohabitation needs to be viewed not only as a legitimate end-state in itself, but also as a legitimate form of pre-marriage,” says William Pinsof, family psychologist at Northwestern University via the Alternatives to Marriage Project.
What They Say
Well, I went out and solicited other people’s thoughts. And the survey says…
There are arguments to be made both for and against cohabitation before marriage. It offers the financial benefit of being able to save substantially on monthly bills, and it’s a great way for a couple to see if they are truly compatible with one another. It may even help couples avoid going through a divorce if they learn early on that things just aren’t going to work out.
On the other hand, living together for a significant period of time may lead one partner to be turned off by the concept of marriage. Also, if two people rush into living together, it could destroy the relationship, as it requires drastic changes in lifestyle and a massive reduction of privacy and alone time. These transitions are tough to make overnight.
It may even be a wise idea to utilize a “trial period” to ease into cohabitation: Live together for one week or a month on-and-off to see how things go before jumping in 100%.
Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance
I met my husband in July and we got married the following October. We didn’t live together which made moving in together after the wedding more special and more of a change. Cohabitation no longer has the stigma it once did, but perhaps still has emotional consequences. I think when you live together, there’s a sense that you’re trying something out, and as an experiment, there’s a delay in making a final decision about your future together.
I’ve known people to date four or five years, while living together, and though the woman would like to get married, often feels at the mercy of her partner to make up his mind. I have known engaged couples who have lived together and these seem more likely to follow through with marriage.
I am a life coach and have numerous clients who have relationship experience that backs up the importance of living with someone before marriage and I have my own personal experience that proves the same. When you live with someone your relationship will exponentially flourish or deteriorate. Every nuance that seemed like an adorable quirk begins to suffocate you when you are sharing your closet space and refrigerator, not to mention household chores.
I’m not suggesting moving in with everyone you date after 3 months- that would cause your head to spin and your neighbors to be confused…but if your relationship is progressing towards marriage or something serious- long term you should advance to living together while continuing to move forward, making sure you’re compatible, compromising and that there are no big surprises.
One of 2 things will happen- You will know you have made the right decision or you will know you are with the wrong person faster then you would have otherwise realized, and both are valuable lessons.
Steve Siebold says you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, or choose a church without listening to a sermon first, so why would you marry someone without living with them or even sleeping with them first?
He says when a couple makes the leap from dating to marriage, it’s a lousy gamble that rarely pays off. This is one of the reasons divorce, infidelity and unhappiness are so common. He says living together is growing in popularity as the population evolves through higher education and becomes more socially sophisticated.
Siebold believes that living together before marriage is an intelligent trial before making a lifelong commitment to someone. It’s only common sense to minimize the risk of making a mistake if you have the choice. Living together accomplishes many things, including heightened emotional intimacy, discovery of one another’s personal habits, and maybe most importantly, sexual compatibility. Marrying someone you’ve never made love to is tempting fate. Steve says sex and intimacy issues are two of the primary causes of divorce. Additionally, Steve lived with his wife for two years before they were married, and they’ve been together for 26 years.
I am 42 years old and I have been married twice and both marriages we lived with each other prior to getting married. I believe in it because it allows you to work out kinks – for both of you to find out if being married is really going to work without having to go through a wedding and all that expense to get divorced. I believe that living together says we are committed to each other the wedding/marriage is a statement that says we are in this together, forever.
Not getting to know each other before marriage can be a big let down once you are married and living together is not as you thought it would be causing tension – I think the expectations are higher when you don’t live together to live in this fantasy of happily ever after, if you live together first and get all the kinks out then after the wedding you can live happily ever after. I don’t think you truly ever know someone completely until you spend years with that person.
Life will throw all kinds of challenges your way and none of us can predict how we are going to react to that.
When my current wife and I decided to tell her 9-year-old daughter that we were going to get married and that I was moving in, the poor little thing FREAKED OUT! For some reason, “the paper” was going to ruin everything! Although she cares for me, she had high hopes that her parents would get back together, and she felt that accepting me meant giving up loyalty to her daddy.
Long story short, we brainstormed and agreed that I would move in for a two-month trial basis w/o getting married. The idea was to see how it worked out. Well, she did not agree to the marriage for six months, but finally “gave” us her permission. Anyway, we actually celebrated our anniversary about two years ago when we exchanged vows and rings alone in Butchard Gardens on vacation. -Anonymous
I just got married in June. This is my 2nd marriage. My first marriage where I did not live with my soon to be husband was a disaster. I chose to move in with my second husband before we got married because I wanted a full year to see exactly who he was before we got married. We decided to live together after he proposed and I think it was a good decision (even though I was raised to think otherwise). - Anonymous
I lived with a woman before marriage, and we ended up not getting married. While there is of course no way to know if it would have worked out, there is no question in my mind that tensions were raised by a lack of personal space for each of us. To this day, I advise all friends moving in together (married or not), to take the amount of space you’d think you’d need (usually, a room each), and then double it. Each person needs a place in the home to escape to, or they’ll start dreading coming home, which is a bad place to be.
Thanks to all those who provided their input!!!
Check out this infographic and its findings.
(click image to view full view)
Over to you…
What say you? Do you think cohabitation before marriage can help or hurt a marriage? Weigh in family!