Living together before Marriage

Today in TheStar, a reader posed the following question: She and her boyfriend are in a “loving, committed relationship” but she would like to be engaged or married before they move in together. “Do you feel that living together is a natural progression before marrying?” I don’t know who the expert answering the question is, but he says that “in many cases, couples that choose to live together often decide not to marry at all. They find that co-habiting satisfies their needs for companionship and commitment, and they hope to avoid any further legal or family complications that marriage might bring (or at least one partner thinks that way).

Is this true, and what makes it so?

It seems that anyone with any experience in this field, especially marriage counselors and relationship experts, will tell you that living together before marriage is a bad idea. Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders says that “the chances of a divorce after living together are… much higher than for couples who have not lived together prior to marriage. If living together were a test of marital compatibility… couples living together should have stronger marriages. But they don’t. They have weaker marriages.”  

Sheri and Bob Stritof of About.com say that living together is more stressful than being married! These couples tend to be less committed to marriage and more accepting of divorce. They also form unrealistic fantasies about how married life should be. Rebbetzin Twersky of Aish.com says that in her experience, these couples live by an “unspoken contract” that says, “I will allow you to use me as long as you allow me to use you. But as soon as either one of us finds someone we deem more suitable for ourselves we are out of here.”

If you want to read the more scientific approach, you can view this article: Sociological Reasons Not to Live Together. It sites studies showing that couples who have lived together are less likely to marry eachother at all. Those who do marry have unhappier marriages and are more likely to separate or divorce. Those who live together have an under-developed sense of commitment and responsibility. Even more interesting, studies show that couples who have premarital sex are more likely to divorce and/or have extramarital affairs as well.

You can also find more information on this AOL Members page on Cohabitating, which lists socialogical, psychological, legal, and religious reasons NOT to live together before marriage. And… warning: Living together before marriage is dangerous to your health!!

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