Decide, not slide
Have you heard of the cohabitation effect?
It’s the high likelihood of a divorce in a marriage that follows cohabitation or living together.
This isn’t so common in our neck of the woods because it’s still socially unacceptable to live together unless you’re married. It’s worth taking a look at the principle behind it though.
The National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers University conducted a nationwide (US) survey in 2001 and found that couples who cohabit before marriage are less likely to be satisfied with their marriages. This has nothing to do with the idea of live-in partners being less conservative and so more open to the idea of divorce. It has everything to do with the way in which couples begin living together. If they ‘slide’ instead of ‘decide’ on it they haven’t thought things through and addressed all the issues. It just happens. They think it’s a smaller decision than getting married. They feel more tolerant of a live-in partner’s flaws a married ones. They think it’s easier to get out a live in relationship and are more relaxed about it. In actuality it isn’t easy to get out of a live in relationship either, so a lot of thought and discussion needs to go into it beforehand. Sliding into cohabitation often means that you will slide into marriage in the same way – without giving it the thought it warrants.
As clinical psychologist, Meg Jay says in this article “ I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake. A mentor of mine used to say, “The best time to work on someone’s marriage is before he or she has one,” and in our era, that may mean before cohabitation. “
How can you apply this in your own life?
Assess, assess and reassess.
Check if this is what you really want. Check what your partner thinks cohabitation is all about. Does he, like you, think it’s the precursor to marriage? Or is it just convenient for him right now?
Whether you marry the guy you live with or somebody else, the process of having a discussion with him, of stating your preferences, listening to his and trying to understand if there’s a match will be a huge asset for you in your marriage.
It’s all the things left unsaid, or presumed that lead to a marriage collapsing. You can have a different opinion – that isn’t the problem, the problem is – not talking about the difference.
- Men and Women Often Expect Different Things When They Move In Together (theatlantic.com)