Living together: a good idea?
5/10/2012 4:31:55 PM -
There has been a good deal of interest lately about the pro and cons of cohabitation - the living together as a couple before marriage. Studies from both Rutgers and University of Virginia have looked at this issue and had some conclusions:
Cohabitation is here to stay. The studies focused on just on US but a range a countries. It's big overall, less big in Catholic, east European countries.
Cohab is the trial marriage. Surveys of high school seniors say that a majority see living together as a good way to test the relationship. Fine print: Women see this as a prelude to marriage, guys as a road test.
Divorce rate is higher among those who cohab. This is the interesting part. Statistically the rate is higher.
Why? Some theories:
In surveys both men and women say that their standards for cohab mates are lower than those they would marry. Hmmmm
40 percent wind up having a child which pushes even shaky couples together moreat least for a while.
Slipping and sliding. The biggest factor is that once doing house, it's hard to get out - you move in because it makes sense and you save on rent. Then you go in together on a bedroom set, then the puppy. And each time you call up your mother she is saying 'When are you guys getting married?' And why not, you both think. It's good enough, we've invested a lot into this relationship, I don't want to start all over again, it isn't that bad.
But hence the divorce rates. You accommodate, you go with the flow, you worry about the puppy, and breaking up would be like a mini divorce. Things, important things, get swept under the rug and down the road it all catches up to you.
So is living together a good idea or not?
It can be but only if you work around the dangers. This means doing your best not to have children (not only does it lock you in, but the divorce later can take a toll on them), think twice about the bedroom set, and double that for the puppy.
The most important thing, however, and often the hardest to do is to be honest. With yourself and then with your partner. The yourself part is being clear about how you feel, about why you are moving in together, about what you need or expect from the relationship. The partner part is about taking the risk of speaking up and talking about even small problems when they arise, rather than biting your tongue and being 'nice.' Nice doesn't work over the long haul. Instead go for honest.
If you can openly and honestly deal with small things as you live together, you lay down a foundation of open communication and a solid problem-solving process that will enable you to successfully weather any changes that may come even after you get married.
So if this is the road test, go ahead and open the throttle and see how well the relationship handles.