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?