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Is cohabitation before marriage a recipe for divorce?

Whether you live in Birmingham or elsewhere, going through a divorce can be difficult. When couples get married they likely find it impossible to believe that their union could one day end. However, many marriages do end in divorce. But what if there were things couples could do to avoid divorce later on in life? Some say the secret is avoiding cohabitation before marriage.

In 1960, only about 450,000 couples lived together before marriage. That number has now jumped to more than 7.5 million.

Many people in their 20’s view cohabitation as a way to avoid divorce by testing whether or not a couple is compatible with each other. However, some believe that those who live together before they are married, and particularly before they are engaged, tend to find their marriages less fulfilling. Some refer to it as the cohabitation effect.

In addition to cohabitating couples being more relaxed about marriage and divorce, researchers have found that couples who live together before marriage may be more likely to later divorce because cohabitation can happen gradually over time. Couples may start to spend more time together and begin living with each other before discussing why they want to live together or what it means to them.

Researchers also found that men and women view cohabitating before marriage much differently. Women typically see it as a step towards marriage, while men view it as a test for marriage.

No one can say for sure whether cohabitation is a good idea or not. One thing is for certain, cohabitation is not something that will be going away anytime soon. As the numbers suggest, more and more couples will likely choose to cohabitate before marriage.

Although no one has a crystal ball, some suggest couples have serious conversations before they move in together about each other’s level of commitment and to view cohabitation as a step towards marriage rather than a test of compatibility.

Source: The New York Times, “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage,” Meg Jay, April 14, 2012