Monday, July 5, 2010

Cohabitation: Marital Test-Drive or Highway to Divorce?

In today's society cohabitation is seen by many as a just another step in the dating process.  You meet someone, date for a while, move in together, get married, have kids...
While others hold to religious, moral, or personal views of cohabitation as sinful or an alternative to traditional marriage.  

Is choosing to live together before or instead of getting married better?  With most other major life decisions there is a trial run.  We get to test drive a car, inspect a house, visit a college all before making major decisions.  Can it be possible to do the same with a partner without living together?  First, let's look at some interesting facts about cohabitation.   

Researchers have conducted numerous studies and many statistics abound on the prevalence, success and length of cohabitating relationships:  

  • First marriages last longer than cohabiting relationships 
  • 65% of cohabiting couples transition to marriage within 5 years
  • 52% of non-marital births occur in cohabiting unions
  • Cohabiting couples report lower levels of relationship quality and lower income
  • Cohabitation increases risk for divorce
  • Age is also factor
    • People 18-19 are more likely to live together
    • People 25-44 are more likely to marry

Cohabitation appears to have negative outcomes in comparison to marriage.  But, there are other ways to "test drive" living with a partner without actually living with them.
Taking an extended vacation (especially a cruise) can reveal a partner's living habits.  Rotating "sleep-overs" throughout the week gives an opportunity to see one another in their natural habitat.  Also, premarital counseling can identify possible areas of future concern that could surface when two people reside in the same household.      

In light of the statistics, is it a good idea to take your partner for a "test drive" before making a lifelong commitment?  

Source: (CDC) Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S.

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