Does Cohabitation before Marriage help or hinder a Marriage?
By: Nicodemus Hilaire
All in all as a man, I personally believe marriage to be strictly a business/financial move. However others do not and I went through the trouble to sort through the facts about co-habitation and if it improves marriage. If so what are the percentages???
Where is the Romance? Cohabitation vs Not and How it Impacts a Successful Marriage
Cohabitation is gaining in popularity with couples. Much of this is because it is more socially acceptable now than it was prior to the 1960s. It is important to look at the probability of couples staying married after cohabitation versus those who chose not to live together prior to marriage.
Cohabitation has increased by approximately 900% in the last 50 years. More people want to test the waters before they dive into a lifelong commitment. This number has increased considerably since the 1960s and even in the past decade. The census shows approximately 7.8 million couples living together without marriage in 2012, while in 1996, this same statistic was that 2.9 million.
The reason for cohabitation can vary. Some of it has to do with convenience and economic reasons while others want to test the relationship to ensure that they are truly compatible prior to making a permanent commitment to each other. The average time of cohabitation prior to walking down the aisle is two years.
Cohabitation does not automatically guarantee marriage. Within five years, approximately 50% will choose to marry. 40% will split up while the remaining 10% will continue to live together without getting married.
According to the US Attorney Legal Services, cohabitation prior to marriage doesn’t accomplish the goal that many think it will. A couple who does not live together prior to marriage has a 20% chance of divorce within five years. However, if the couple has lived together prior to marriage, the chance for divorce jumps to 49% within five years.
There are additional statistics to look at as well. When couples choose cohabitation without getting married, they are more likely to break up during the same five-year time frame than if they were married.
The chance for breakup among married couples, regardless of whether they have lived together or not prior to the marriage or not increases until the 10 year mark. After that, marriages tend to solidify more. Couples have already gone through the thick and thin of the relationship and know how to work things out. While divorce still happens, it’s not as common after the 10 year mark as it is prior.
There is something to be said about looking at the age of a couple as well. Researchers shown that the longer a couple waits in order to take the plunge, the more successful the marriage is likely going to be. One study showed that those who marry at the age of 18 saw an estimated 60% rate of divorce while those who waited until 23 had a divorce rate that drop down to 30%.
Why Cohabitation Doesn’t Improve the Statistics
One of the main reasons why couples choose to cohabitation prior to walking down the aisle is to improve their chances of having a lasting marriage. However, there are various reasons why it doesn’t actually improve marital success, and can actually hinder it.
The romance is generally gone by the time marriage actually takes place. Even though the goal may be marriage when the couple moves in together, the “honeymoon” phase is long gone by the time the couple has walked down the aisle. There is no real courting taking place, and this can cause disharmony between the couple, even if it is never vocalized.
There may also be less conservative views of marriage in place because the couple decided that it was okay to live with each other prior to taking vows. This is generally seen among couples that are not as religious. They are not completely sold on the sanction of marriage and therefore don’t think too much about the need to stay married. If they are unhappy, they simply get a divorce as opposed to working on the relationship and going to counseling.
There is also the idea that the situation may not be permanent. Vows have not been said and while there may or may not be a ring on the finger, both individuals know that they can walk away at any time. This can lack a significant amount of stability, and does not provide a strong basis for a lasting and successful marriage.
Where is the Romance?
Many people have forgotten all about the romance. There is much to be said about the need for including romance into a relationship. Whether a couple is religious or not, most women believe marriage to be considered a rite of passage and a ceremony that has meaning. Before the advent of birth control in the sixties it was imperative to be taken seriously because two people are committing to each other to live together forever – in sickness and in health, and they take each other for richer and for poorer. And not least people considered marriage more than business because of children and a it was a committed effort toward their children’s survival.
Communication is a must. Regardless of whether a couple lives together or not, there is no substitution for sufficient communication between the needs of each party within the couple.
Many women will say that they don’t need the romance and they are fine with sharing finances, buying dishes together, and even getting a dog without marriage. However, when it comes down to it, they want the ring and they want the lifelong commitment – and this can have a role reversal with men as well.
Often, it’s all about hurrying up and going for what’s convenient. One person may be ready for the lifelong commitment while the other one wants to test the waters, and one person ends up settling. No one should be settling. Marriage is something that needs to happen when both parties are ready – and the same goes for cohabitation.
What does Nico say?
Make sure you know what marriage means to your partner. To me as a man of my word who has found few to be the same I LOVINGLY regard it is a potentially legally binding pain in the ass. I would only marry if I intended to reproduce and with a prenuptial agreement. I am sorry if that sounds cold but that is the man’s perspective here. 😉