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I Do I will...eventually

Morning, sports fans. I just got to the Herald from my usual weekly TV rant. Follow the link if you care to watch it. If you don't, I'm not offended. Just keep reading.

So I found this study earlier in the week that fascinates me. Back in the day - let's say pre-1980s - relationship experts used to argue that couples who "shacked up" together or cohabited, as it were, before marriage were more likely to get divorced once they were married than couples who waited till the wedding to move in together.

Part of the logic back then was that moving in together before marriage would make one or both parties so comfortable with the living arrangements that if they eventually got married it would be grudgingly, since the formal act of marriage would be an afterthought to the couple already playing house.

Now here's what's changed: nothing! Sort of. The Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor says its research has found that couples who shack up before marriage still get divorced more often than couples who wait. But they no longer blame that higher divorce rate on shacking up. They blame it on all the other things that other divorced couples cite: infidelity, lack of common ground, finances, etc.

On the other hand, according to a USA Today article that analyzed the study, as of last year, nearly 10% of straight couples living together were unmarried. So cohabitation is becoming a norm.

The article also quotes a couple of other university studies that suggest women who shack up with their eventual spouses have lower divorce rates than women who don't. BUT women who shack up with other dudes before shacking up with their eventual spouses, get divorced more.

Further, a Cornell University study, cited in the article, said divorce was 28% less likely for women who co-habitate before marriage than for those who wait.

So enough back and forth numbers. Remember what Mark Twain said about 'em - that there are three degrees of falsehood, "lies, damned lies, and statistics!"

In practical terms, what do you think of this study? It made me chuckle, 'cause I know my preacher father and preacher's wife mom would have smacked me in the back of my head if I had formally moved "all the way" in with Mrs. B before we got married.

And I'm only half kidding when I say that. Sure, in the year leading up to our wedding we spent most of our non-working, waking time together. I spent a huge portion of it at her house. And there were plenty of my things at her house - clothes, etc. The odd thing is there wasn't really any of her stuff at my place. Before we got married my place was the Fortress of Solitude, the Bat Cave, etc. It was where I went to lie on the couch every few Saturdays to watch Law & Order marathons or back-to-back-to-back college football games while eating pizza and forgetting for a few hours that I wasn't single anymore.

A close friend of mine recently brought this topic up with me, because this friend now lives with his girlfriend, and she's worried that them living together will lessen the urgency they might have jointly felt to eventually get married.

I asked him if she was worried about the whole "why buy the cow if you can drink the milk for free" theory, but he didn't think so and rightly pointed out that that adage usually refers to sexual relations.

And that ship has already sailed. Interestingly, my buddy never directly answered the question as to whether his girlfriend's fears are warranted, though he did joke "Why get married? We're doing all the married stuff now." At least I think he was joking.

I have a female friend who recently moved in with her boyfriend. But our conversation didn't get that deep.

I'll say this: I don't condemn or condone in this case, but I think I understand why the Michigan study suggests the moral stigma is gone from cohabitation.

It's a money thing, at least based on what my shacking up friends say. Most say that if they're in love or at least deeply in like with their significant others, then that no longer is an issue. They say that if they get along with their significant others, then that no longer is an issue. They say that if they spend more than two-thirds of their waking, non-working time with their significant others, then they've already passed the test as to whether they can stand being around one another. And they say that if they don't live at home - meaning in the same town as their folks, where their folks can easily snoop on 'em - then  they don't feel any pressure to sneak around or formalize their relationship. So that leaves one major factor: money.

My buddy who recently moved in with his girlfriend said how they relate is solid. They just figured if they were gonna be together - whether the relationship lasted forever or just for a few months or years - they may as well save and stash a few bucks by sharing their costs.

Did you shack up before marriage? Why? Did you not? Why? Do you care one way or the other?

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fiwa

Hey Mr. B - thanks for visiting - it was a nice suprise to hear from you. I think I lost you when I switched to using GoogleReader, but I have you back in my subscriptions now.

I did live with my husband before we were married. For us it was a convenience/money thing, but that being said, I would not live with someone I did not intend to marry. If I chose to live with someone it would be because I intend to commit myself to them - otherwise just living with someone I knew I didn't reaaaally love would be a waste of time. And painful when the inevitable split came. Does that make sense?

And I don't have children, so I can't really weigh in on how I would feel about my CHILD living with someone, but for everyone one else, I'm from the live and let live philosophy.

Interesting topic - I'll come back to read the other comments.

lovins -
fiwa

Mary

Fiwa, my blog chickie, is that YOU???
Hey, cool to see you here!! James rocks. You'll be back again and again.
Ooops... sorry James, this is your blog post so better comment on your topic, huh? LOL
Hmmm....
This is definitely gonna be TMI for sure, but here goes anyway:
My hub and I dated less than a year before I got pregnant. Gosh, how did that happen??? So we were married before the end of that year, lived with my parents for about a week or so until our apartment was ready and moved right in together and pretty much had to figure things out FAST. Our daughter was born the following May.
I am probably outside of all statistics because I graduated high school in June, was expecting a baby and married by November, and living away from home pretty young. But fast forward 25 years and we're still together, married, and very happy.

Makes no difference to me either way if people live together or not.
I'm glad things worked out so well for me, but to each his own how people live their lives.

Wavemancali

Lived with my wife before we got married for about a year. I think it's foolish not to live with the person you plan on spending the rest of your life with to make sure that you don't have any compatibility issues that wold make spending the rest of your life with impossible.

You have to make sure you have made the correct decision, before you are bound to it for the rest of your life.

As for the high divorce rate for women with multiple live-in partners, I think it is a case of selective memory. They find themselves living in a situation that they can compare to past experiences. We all view he past with rose colored glasses. I think women that have former live-in footing remember the good things about each of the past live-ins and wonder why they can't have it in their current environment.

Comparison is never a good way to judge your mate. Actions are usually the best way to assess their fitness.

Wendy

I dated my guy for 7 years before we married, and we didn't live together. Sure, we had "sleepovers", but we didn't leave our things at each other's residences. It wasn't for religious reasons. On my part, I felt if he wanted to live together then he could marry me, otherwise I didn't really see the point in moving in together. On his side, his roommate had a simple rule, "If she keeps tampons here, she pays rent."
Moving in together after we married, in our case, brought an amount of respect to each other's "territory" when we finally moved in, and that would include contributing to chores around the house. I don't know, maybe we are the anomaly.
I think as generations have passed, the respect for marital vows has weakened, and breaking or bending them has become acceptable - as evidenced by the cohabitation, and Swingfest 2008 in Hollywood.

Dave

I dated my wife for a year and half before we got engaged. Then once she was my fiance, I felt that we should take the next step and live together during our 18 month engagement. If you are engaged, I highly recommend living together. You really get to know someone when you live together. We've now been happily married for 11 years. When my daughter is older, I will tell her to live with her fiance before getting married. Not her boyfriend, but her fiance. There's a difference.

claud

I lived with one other guy for 8 months before I moved in with "the one". The first guy was a stupid impulsive mistake, and the second was more finanically based than anything else. He needed to get out of his lease and I had to get out of mine and we'd save money if we moved in togther. It worked out better than I could have ever expected and we're getting married in a year.

dr vats

dopey article,I lived with a female for a year in the late 70s,had an amiable parting,didnt w an ex wife and had the worst divorce in history

Kel

Whatever happened to waiting? I'm in college and I've never been married or lived with anyone. I guess my generation doesn't like waiting for stoplights or waiting in line and we like fast food and microwaves. We get everything whenever we want it. I think the marriage would be better and the bond would be stronger if a couple had the self-control to wait. Then they wouldn't be able to compare with past live-ins. Everything new about living together would be discovered...together. With only that person, your spouse, creating a deeper bond with one another. Also, if it's okay to date and live together, then break-up...eventually people might view marriage as something they can get out of like any other dating relationship with other live-ins instead of "'til death do us part".

HAPPY FELLOW

If you are a man...and you are married or shacking with a significant other...you are STUPID,BI-POLAR,or BOTH. There is no upside or advantage.

John Curtis

New considerations about cohabitation...

1) Years of judgment & fear-mongering have done NOTHING to discourage cohabitation.

Like the movie "Reefer Madness" in the 1960s was a failed attempt to discourage marijuana use, condemnation of cohabitation is failing, as well. Most cohabiters feel like it "won't happen to them" and / or they fear a failed marriage even more, so opt to live together despite the odds.

2) The U.S. leads the world in divorce but lags in cohabitation, but that is rapidly changing.

Rates of cohabitation will skyrocket in the near future since 75% of high school students believe living together is worthwhile and harmless. Over 60% of high school girls and nearly 70% of high school boys have a favorable opinion of cohabitation.

3) We must "reinvent" and raise our expectations of cohabitation, and our attitudes toward those who decide to live together.

While a commonly held expectation (myth) is that in marriage you will... "live happily ever-after," there is NO parallel expectation of cohabitation other than "it won't last" which may help create a "self-fulfilling" prophecy. Additionally, seniors might cohabit to avoid the loss of pensions, etc. if they were to marry just as soon as young adults live together for easy access to sex or to save on rent. Cohabiting is not just for the twenty-something crowd but is happening across the age spectrum.

4) Understanding cohabitation means understanding that our motives for cohabitation have undergone a drastic transformation.

Baby boomers started the cohabitation movement to rebel against marriage and as part of the sexual revolution. Now, in part, due to all the boomers who shacked up in the 60s, got married in the 70s, divorced in the 80s and who raised the first generation of children from broken homes, cohabitation is exploding out of fear of failure and not as a "anti-establishment" statement.

5) Cohabitation could be a long-term, permanent trend OR an experimental cycle that will end in failure.

One could assume that with the growth of cohabitation, marriage is an endangered institution. However, it is too early to say this move away from legally-binding relationships is an ongoing TREND or that we are merely seeing the bottom of a CYCLE and that marriage is on the upswing.

Many children of divorced parents developed...

“I’ll not go through the pain my parents did with their divorce” mindset, and cohabitate instead.

Therefore, one could speculate that children of cohabiting parents may also develop a similar...

“I’ll not go through the hassles my parents did while cohabiting” mindset and marry instead.

It's possible that future generations of the children of cohabiters will seek the stability of marriage, rejecting their parents’ cohabitation relationship as just too insecure.

The current evidence does not verify if cohabitation will last or merely be part of a multi-generational experiment that will ultimately “fizzle out” due to a loss of interest and lack of perceived benefit. Western Europe might be the bellwether of cohabitation patterns in the U.S.
___________________

John Curtis, Ph.D.
1.828.246.0459
www.wecohabitate.com
___________________

Sharon

We didn't live together before marriage. Twenty-seven years later we're still married, & raised two children. Yes, there have been adjustments, but that's just life.

Just wondering, if someone goes from 'relationship' to 'relationship', how do they ever experience real stability & trust? Particularly if they've never had it demonstrated to them by their parents?

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