Cohabitation does not contribute to divorce risk

Despite the haters, living together before marriage doesn’t lead to the end of a relationship.

My boyfriend of over four years and I have been living together for the past two years. Although we initially moved in together for financial reasons, the living arrangement turned out to be a beneficial change for the both of us and we grew closer as a couple.

Nevertheless, I received several protests from my family and friends who said that moving in was “a bad idea,” or “you will eventually get sick of each other and break up” and “I heard that living together before marriage leads to divorce.”

In addition, I practically got kicked out of my Christian group because, according to the organization’s leader, living with your significant other prior to marriage went against the church’s teachings. That and, she did not hesitate to add, my relationship was “doomed to fail.”

However, recent studies show that the correlation of living together before marriage, also known as premarital cohabitation, and divorce is more of a myth than actual fact.

According to an article in The Chicago Tribune, a study co-written by Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, found that “82 percent of women who lived with their eventual spouses before marriage were still married by their five-year anniversaries. The percentage was the same for women who did not live with their spouses before marriage.”

Changing times have also resulted in better data and better research methods. In addition, there has also been a huge change in societal, cultural, and individual acceptance of premarital cohabitation.

According to Pamela Stock, sociologist at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, “A lot of the earlier studies were relying on data that may have been gathered in the late ’80s and mid-’90s.”

She added “We’re talking about a moving target. The evidence is a lot more mixed.”

Manning said that the factors that increase the likelihood of divorce are poor education, marrying at a young age, having children before marriage and having several sexual partners before marriage. But not the “unholy” living situation.

“Two-thirds of couples now live together (prior to) marriage, compared to one-half of couples 20 years ago,” Manning added.

Premarital cohabiters can also have a strong and successful committed relationship just as married couples.

According to a poll in USA Today, those who responded to the poll also seemed more “open-minded” on whether unmarried couples living together can have a committed relationship.

In my experience, I learned more about my boyfriend from living with him: his little quirks, his likes and dislikes, what he is passionate about and I got to know who he was not only at his best but also at his worst.

Despite his shortcomings, I fell more in love with my boyfriend knowing that he was completely himself when he was with me and I could completely be myself when I was with him. I don’t know about you, but I rather be in love with the real person than the dream.

Regarding the poll, the article also stated “half the sample was asked if an unmarried couple who have lived together for five years is as committed as a couple married five years. 57percent said yes, they are.”

So next time you decide to ridicule any premarital cohabiters of “shacking up” or “playing house,” think again.

But don’t get me wrong. This does not mean that you’re likely to get divorced if you wait to move in with your partner after marriage either.

What it really comes down to are other factors that have nothing to do with living arrangements, but deal rather with the quality of the relationship between two people.

After all, in the end what matters is not marrying the person you can live with but marrying the person you can’t live without.

Author: Christine Foronda

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