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Premarital cohabitation

Big Harv

TRIBE Member
I've heard many people say that moving in with your S.O. before marriage is a risky proposition and that many relationships that included pre-marital cohabitation have ended in divorce.

This seems to defy logic - wouldn't moving in with your S.O. before marriage only increase your due diligence opportunities to see if he/she is the one? Isn't it better to find out that your S.O. is really hard to handle over long periods of time or is a complete slob around the house before the knot is tied?
I have seen contemporaries of mine go through quick divorces due to the fact that when they moved in together they realized pretty quickly they were incompatible.

I have never heard a good defense of why it could lead to marriage breakdown. Could someone take a stab at this?
 

Agent Smith

TRIBE Member
You're not considering a lot of factors that can be skewing the statistics. For example, deeply religious couples or people of certain cultures might not believe in premarital cohabitation, and as a result of their beliefs, might also not believe in divorce. In these instances, it is their convictions, not the lack of living together prior to marriage that drives the lower divorce rate.
 

freshest1

TRIBE Member
having only read the title…I suggest Do Not Do this, brother. It is imperative that you fuck as many women as your mediocre looks will allow you to. Until that special day where you receive a phone call in regards to your genetic matter being unconsensually used for the purpose of procreation and alimony. Then and only then do you move in/ get married. Im just kidding, I hope she takes good care of you.
 

Soulster

TRIBE Member
Agent Smith said:
You're not considering a lot of factors that can be skewing the statistics. For example, deeply religious couples or people of certain cultures might not believe in premarital cohabitation, and as a result of their beliefs, might also not believe in divorce. In these instances, it is their convictions, not the lack of living together prior to marriage that drives the lower divorce rate.
^what he said.
 

Big Harv

TRIBE Member
agent smith/soulster - it's a valid point - but i am still confused as to why are there are horror stories about couples who are not constrained by religious or cultural reasons and who do live together before marriage, but the fact that they lived together before marriage is a big reason for the marriage's failure in the future?
 
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Agent Smith

TRIBE Member
Big Harv said:
agent smith/soulster - it's a valid point - but i am still confused as to why are there are horror stories about couples who are not constrained by religious or cultural reasons and who do live together before marriage, but the fact that they lived together before marriage is a big reason for the marriage's failure in the future?
Personally, I have not heard a disproportionate number of stories like this.
 

Big Harv

TRIBE Member
Here is an article that briefly discusses the phenomenon, but only gives a couple of explanations for the increased probability of divorce, neither of which are particularly solid reasons:

Does Cohabitation Protect Against Divorce?
March 21, 2003

by Glenn T. Stanton

Can living together before marriage serve as a successful test-drive for a relationship, helping couples avoid years of heartache and pain? Research tells another story.
A growing number of young people are cohabiting today, believing that the cohabiting relationship can serve as a successful testing ground for marriage and, therefore, lessen chances of divorce. In fact, recent research shows that 46% of all cohabiting relationships are seen as precursors to marriage by the couple.1 And over 90 percent of cohabitors report they plan to marry someone, if not their current partner, at some point in their lives.2

But does cohabiting before marriage decrease people’s chances for divorce? Unfortunately, the research data collected over the past twenty-five years indicates just the opposite is true. Cohabiting relationships are more likely to lead to divorce.


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“On the basis of the analysis provided so far, we must reject that argument that cohabitation provides superior training for marriage or improves mate-selection.”

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Research Says...
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University find “it has been consistently shown that, compared to spouses who did not cohabit, spouses who cohabit before marriage have higher rates of marital separation and divorce.”3 Sociologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report, “Recent national studies in Canada, Sweden, and the United States found that cohabitation increased, rather than decreased, the risk of marital dissolution.”4 This was also found to be true in the Netherlands.5

A leading researcher on cohabitation from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, reports:



Contrary to conventional wisdom that living together before marriage will screen out poor matches and therefore improve subsequent marital stability, there is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lowered marital stability.6
Additional researchers found, “cohabitation is not related to marital happiness, but is related to lower levels of marital interaction, higher levels of marital disagreement and marital instability.”7 They conclude, “On the basis of the analysis provided so far, we must reject that argument that cohabitation provides superior training for marriage or improves mate-selection.”8

Research conducted at Yale and Columbia University and published in American Sociological Review found:



The overall association between premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability is striking. The dissolution rate of women who cohabit premaritally with their future spouse is, on average, nearly 80 percent higher than the rate of those who do not.
Other studies show that those who have any type of pre-marital cohabiting experience have a 50 to 100 percent greater likelihood of divorce than those who do not cohabit premaritally.10 This data has led researchers to conclude that the enhanced chance of divorce after cohabitation “is beginning to take on the status of an empirical generalization.”11

Why the Greater Likelihood of Divorce?
There is really no debate in the social science literature on whether premarital cohabitation increases a couple’s risk of divorce. The question scholars wrestle with is why? One theory is the selection hypothesis: people who are more likely to favor cohabitation are less likely to value relational permanence and are therefore, more likely to divorce. The other theory asserts that the experience of cohabiting actually contributes to later relational instability.

How Cohabiting Harms Relationships
Although researchers have not come to strong conclusions on the above, there is evidence to indicate that the experience of cohabiting can contribute to a greater likelihood of divorce. A recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family finds, “Spouses who cohabited before marriage demonstrated more negative and less positive problem solving and support behaviors compared to spouses who did not cohabit.” And these researchers explain that the experience of cohabiting led to the decrease in problem solving skills.12 In addition, another study published in the American Sociological Review found that periods of cohabitation led to more individualistic attitudes and values, which are contrary to healthy marital attitudes.13 Another study found “cohabiting experiences significantly increase young people’s acceptance of divorce” by persuading them that “intimate relationships are fragile and temporary in today’s world.”14

This very strong body of data led Barbara Dafoe Whitehead to starkly declare, “cohabitation is not to marriage what spring training is to baseball.”15 In building a successful, life-long, happy marriage, practice does not make perfect.


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1 Lynne N. Capser and Suzanne M. Bianchi, Continuity and Change in the American Family, (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2002), chapter 2.
2 John D. Cunningham and John K. Antill, “Cohabitation and Marriage: Retrospective and Predictive Comparisons,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 11 (1994): 77-93.
3 Catherine Cohan and Stacey Kleinbaum, “Toward a Greater Understanding of the Cohabitation Effect: Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Communication,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 180-192.
4 Elizabeth Thomson and Ugo Colella, “Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment?” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54 (1992): 259-267.
5 James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem, (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p. 5.
6 Zheng Wu, “Premarital Cohabitation and Postmarital Cohabiting Union Formation,” Journal of Family Issues 16 (1995): 212-232.
7 Alan Booth and David Johnson, “Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Success,” Journal of Family Issues 9 (1988): 255-272.
8 Booth and Johnson, 1988, p. 261.
9 Neil Bennett, Ann Blanc and David Bloom, “Commitment and Modern Union: Assessing the Link Between Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability,” American Sociological Review 53 (1988): 127-138.
10 William G. Axinn and Arland Thornton, “The Relationship Between Cohabitation and Divorce: Selectivity or Causal Influence?” Demography 29 (1992): 357-374.
11 Alfred DeMaris and K. Vaninadha Rao, “Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability in the United States: A Reassessment,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 54 (1992) 178-190.
12 Cohan and Kleinbaum, 2002, p. 180, 189.
13 Linda J. Waite, Frances Goldschieder and C. Witsberger, “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Adults,” American Sociological Review 51 (1986): 541-554.
14 Axinn and Thornton, 1992, p. 357, 372.
15 Wilson, 2002, p. 6.

Glenn T. Stanton is Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family. He is also author of Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society (Pinon Press), and more recently, My Crazy, Imperfect Christian Family (NavPress, 2004). He also co-authored the book, Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting (Inter-Varsity Press, 2004).
 

miller

TRIBE Member
I lived w/ the same girl twice. I would do it again, just not in a bachelor apartment w/ a psycho cat!
 

Skipper

TRIBE Member
It's beyond me why couples might claim that their pre-marriage cohabitation caused a divorce. that sounds like crazy talk to me!
 
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MissBlu

TRIBE Member
Skipper said:
It's beyond me why couples might claim that their pre-marriage cohabitation caused a divorce. that sounds like crazy talk to me!
Me too...

Maybe people expect things to change after marriage? I don't understand why some people would think that it would change, or be different. Some people have very messed up views though.

My mom always told me that she would never let me tie the knot prior to living with the person. You dont buy a car before you test drive it.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
I don't get this at all - I mean, if you can't live with the person, why marry them? As if marriage would make a difference to that? It certainly would in the sense that once you're married, you're bound to one another in a legal contract... so you're stuck with one another. So does marriage force people to work out their differences? I don't know about that - with the marriage paradigm shifting all over the place these days - women are discovering that they don't have to settle for anything - they can choose the right partner as opposed to whoever was arranged for them or whoever 'seemed good at the time'. Test-driving a relationship by living together is a fundamental as far as I'm concerned. The both of you can find out how the other person lives, and see if either of you is willing to make the necessary changes for a good, long-term relationship. If you can't, then you go your separate ways.

I can't believe that people (other than religious types who are constrained by a structure that prevents them from premarital cohabitation) would still apply the same reasoning to marriage as some people do toward discovering the sex of their unborn child during a pregnancy. "Oh, it'll be a nice surprise...!"
 

seeker

TRIBE Member
I just asked my wife if she found any difference in living together before and after we've been married. Neither of us could come up with drastic differences. Living together before we got married was a big step. Prior to living together, we were living in different cities. But, if it was mine to do all over again, I'd probably make the same decisions. They've worked out well for us.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Big Harv said:
agent smith/soulster - it's a valid point - but i am still confused as to why are there are horror stories about couples who are not constrained by religious or cultural reasons and who do live together before marriage, but the fact that they lived together before marriage is a big reason for the marriage's failure in the future?
Because it's an anecdote?
 

Poot

TRIBE Member
seeker said:
Living together before we got married was a big step.
Exactly.

I wonder if couples whose premarital cohabitation is correlated with divorce have had multiple cohabitations before their marriage partner, and have treated these previous live-in relationships casually and non-permanently, as well.
 
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miller

TRIBE Member
Poot said:
Exactly.

I wonder if couples whose premarital cohabitation is correlated with divorce have had multiple cohabitations before their marriage partner, and have treated these previous live-in relationships casually and non-permanently, as well.
Probably
 

[- FuNKtiOn -]

TRIBE Member
MissBlu said:
You dont buy a car before you test drive it.
exactly. living with someone you see their natural habits and traits alot easier, and I think that should make you more confident in spending the rest of your life with that person because you've seen them in more of the settings that comes along with marriage.
 
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Ms. Fit

TRIBE Member
MissBlu said:
Me too...

Maybe people expect things to change after marriage? I don't understand why some people would think that it would change, or be different. Some people have very messed up views though.

My mom always told me that she would never let me tie the knot prior to living with the person. You dont buy a car before you test drive it.
There's was an article in Pyschology Today from maybe 8-12 months back that talks about how pre-marital cohabitation DOES increase chance of divorce. There are statistics that prove this.

I wouldn't live with my partner unless we were 1. engaged or 2. I owned my place and he was paying rent. Other than that, cohabitation seems like the lazy/cheap man's version of marriage.
 

rubytuesday

TRIBE Member
Psychology today ran this article a whie ago that discusses the cons of living with someone before marriage.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20050614-000001.html

I think it depends on the couple and what their beliefs are. I remember reading somewhere that couples in some European countries are becoming less likely to marry after cohabitating (meaning they remain common law). I really don't see a problem with this.
My parents never married and the only annoying thing about it was having adults ask me things like why my sister and I have different last names.

The main argument against cohabitating is that couples who cohabitate might do so mainly to save money and this leads to a sense of commitment that wouldn't exist if it the couple had more money and lived apart. You can end up trapped in a way, maybe you marry the person you're not so crazy about because it seems like the right thing to do.
 

Genesius

TRIBE Member
I don't see the correlation either. I think Agent Smith's explanation is the best.

Frankly, if your not "religious" I don't understand why you would get married anyway (especially in a church service). Why not just live together and see how it goes? Although sometimes emotionally, I'm sure It's a thin line between getting a divorce and moving out from your s.o.
 

Boo

TRIBE Member
Big Harv said:
you plan on marrying your mom? :confused:
lol, I wouldn't risk being kicked out of the room with the transformer wallpaper and spiderman pillowcases either.

I personally don't understand couples that don't live together. Obviously when you are first dating, you need your space. But I know people who havebeen 'dating' for years and still live in seperate places, I'm not sure what they are waiting for. I feel if the relationship is going anywhere, (ie ultimately end up in marriage, same sex union, or getting the tree gods to bless your spirit souls coming together) the cohabitation step will eventually have to come in to play. You could be dating for 5 years, but you won't know that person nearly as well as if you were living with them for 6 months.

Having said all that, I know lots of couples where moving in together was the nail in the coffin for the relationship. They date for years, move in together and then in 3 months the relationship is over.

My theory on this is that with seperate places you don't have to see each other every day, all the time. So if you are in a bad mood, you can screen a call or just put up with a visitor for a few minutes or hours and then have your space. Living togoether, you really have to love the person to make it work, because every little thing that you thought was cute before - annoys the hell out of you.

Then again, I could see 2 people completly committed to a marriage making it work without moving in together because of their will to work through it. Just moving in together might be treated more casually and be disbanded at an earlier sign of trouble. I don't think these marriages would be as happy or compatible as those that went for the test drive first.
 

Poot

TRIBE Member
Ms. Fit said:
I wouldn't live with my partner unless we were 1. engaged...
I always swore that I wouldn't cohabit unless I were engaged... and then I met Michael.

When we approached my parents to get their blessing on situation cohabitation, Michael noted (to my father) that he intended to marry me, and for this reason it was important that we didn't start off on the wrong foot.

Neither of us treated living together lightly, and I hardly considered it to be a "lazy/cheap man's marriage". Michael was doing his MBA, and while we had every intention of getting married, financially we weren't ready for a wedding/marriage at the same time as it made sense for us to move in together.
 
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