Cohabitation Before Marriage: Yes or No? 7


A reader, “Helen”, started a good discussion point on my, “10 Things I’m Looking For In A Woman“. Her comment was:

Co-habitation/living together (in blogs) by single women have been cited as an expectation within a year of relationship, possibly children and marriage within 5 years, how do you view this requirement from a single male perspective?

“Helen” is doing research on the topic and asked if I would share my “in the minority” opinion to see what feedback is received.

So I’m posing the question to EVERYONE: what do you think about cohabitation before marriage? Yes or no?

C’mon, don’t be shy.

I’ll Start. My Opinion: No.

Here’s why: everyone I know who did not live together before engagement is still happily married to this day; everyone who I know is currently divorced or in the process of getting divorced did live together before engagement.

It seems obvious doesn’t it? You love someone. Marriage is a possibility. But you are not 100% sure or 100% ready. Surely it will help you to get to know each other better, to deepen your mutual love, to see whether you are truly compatible, and to lay the foundations for a lifelong happy marriage.

Only most of the time it doesn’t.

The Difference I See Between Couples who Cohabitated and Those That Didn’t?

Couples who do not cohabitate before marriage are happier.

Statistics show that couples who do not cohabitate before marriage have happier relationships.

To me it can be summed up in a word:

MINDSET

When people cohabitate, I feel they don’t take marriage as seriously. For example, if I received a dollar every time someone said, “it’s only a piece of paper”, I would be super rich. I see so many couples just go into it non-chalantly without the firm “life time” commitment. They go through a big ceremony, get a piece of paper and new Tupperware, and go back to what they were doing before. Since they think less of marriage, they are less likely to work tirelessly to preserve it.

The fundamentals of commitment suggest that thinking about what you are doing and where you are going — together — and making a decision, can build a stronger, more lasting commitment than just “sliding” along in the relationship to cohabitation and then “sliding” into marriage instead of “deciding”. In other words, some couples who would not (and should not) have gotten married otherwise do so because they were living together and/or succumbing to societal expectations.

Supporting My Opinion

Let me start with “mail order brides” (MOB). MOB’s aren’t able to cohabitate before marriage with Western Men. We know the divorce rates in Western Nations like Canada, USA, U.K., and Australia are near 50%. Yet, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that “…marriages arranged through [mail order bride] services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole, fully 80 percent of these marriages having lasted over the years for which reports are available.”

(reference for the above quote)

That’s EIGHTY PERCENT (80%) success without cohabitation. Most of these women go into marriages seeking “the one”. They have a different mindset than western women.

Next up the Centre for Immigration Studies who again state a 20% divorce rate with mail order bride marriages. A separate organization comes to the same conclusions the census did.

The Cohabitation Effect

It’s a documented phenomenon that couples who cohabitate tend to be more negative towards each other. I found a good explanation for this in a NY Times published article which states:

“Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.”

“Try Before You Buy”

Psychological and statistical data show how living together before you get married makes it harder for you to choose the right person and harder to prepare for a lifelong marriage. Most western women can’t acknowledge this, or that marriages with women who generally aren’t able to “try before they buy” (such as MOB’s) are significantly more successful.

Another example: how many people have lived in any home they owned for at least a week before actually making an offer to buy it? Generally, you can’t. But, you still make an offer to buy it, take on all the associated responsibilities, and do your best to keep that commitment. Again: it’s mindset. You “decided” to buy your home, you didn’t “slide” into it.

“You don’t really know them until you live with them”

I roll my eyes every time I hear this one. How many times do we see stories in the news of a wife or husband finding out after 15+ years of marriage that their spouse is a foreign spy or something else? You never ever truly know someone. However, I think that if you’re dating someone for a few years, between all the “sleep overs”, vacations/weekends away, and doing things together, you should have a good grasp on your partner.

So What Is YOUR Opinion or Experience?

Think I’m wrong?

Do you agree with me?

Would you want to cohabitate before you get engaged or married? Why or why not?

I’d love to read what you have to say! Leave your comments!

  • Sue

    Dave,

    I agree that co-habitation prior to marriage does not always lead to a successful marriage, it’s also a personal choice. It is probably a norm in society now, having said that if you look at historical data, you would probably find that it was the upper class that “married legally” mainly to consolidate an alliance related to property/business. The middle and lower classes did not have this option and declared that the person they chose were their husband/wife and lived together. Religion had an impact on the concept of marriage as well, being “married” (no legal papers here) in the eyes of God-this once again was declaration of the one that they had chosen.
    I’m not sure if using the ‘mail order bride” example in this case, to prove the point is the best. You have to remember that many of these are a marriage of convenience. The purpose of most of the western men is to have a wife and children, in many cases a subservient wife which many of the Asian/eastern European females are likely to fall into. The advantage for the women is the possibility of a better life/relief from poverty and in turn to support their families back home. They do not go into these arrangements with the idealistic, somewhat romantic view of finding the “one”. A husband in their definition is to provide a better life, an improvement in their present circumstances. It’s a different mentality, if love is present, that’s just a bonus but not an expectation.
    The upbringing is different from women in developed countries who do not have to deal with many of the issues that would lead to someone advertising as a “mail order bride”. I highly doubt that you would ever go down this track as well , Dave. :-)
    Personally , I don’t think I would want to cohabitate prior to marriage , however , if it was important to the man, I would reconsider my stance on the issue.
    Thought provoking article..I thought this was just about your numerous dating stories but this is a good change of direction.

    • David Lozinski

      Thanks for your comments Sue!

      You have to remember that many of these are a marriage of convenience. The purpose of most of the western men is to have a wife and children, in many cases a subservient wife which many of the Asian/eastern European females are likely to fall into. The advantage for the women is the possibility of a better life/relief from poverty and in turn to support their families back home.

      Maybe; maybe not. I have a cousin who married a Russian woman. They’ve been married over 10 years now and have two lovely children together. Russian women aren’t as poor or desperate as I think a lot of western people perceive them as.

      I highly doubt that you would ever go down this track as well , Dave. :-)

      I dunno Sue… you mentioned you’ve been reading my dating horror stories… and know what happened with those… I might have to consider pursuing a Russian “Romance” tour. :-)

  • Asha

    I cohabitated with my ex. Partly out of necessity, partly out of bringing down cost of living, and partly because I liked living together.

    The relationship ended after we experienced an unplanned pregnancy (I was on the pill) that ended with a baby that had fatal chromosomal conditions.

    With that said, I say it depends on the relationship, but lean more towards no. I will not cohabitate in the future. It’s like playing house without the commitment. You have most of the same struggles and when it gets hard, you can walk away from it so much easier.

    • David Lozinski

      It’s like playing house without the commitment.

      Love this comment Asha! I may have to quote you on this in the future. :-)

  • K B

    I waited until 22 until my first kiss and have had such unromantic experiences with men (especially non-committal Christian guys!) I am in a relationship with someone who says he wants to be together forever, but it is okay with cohabiting before marriage. I will be 27 in march, and not living together is expensive. Is there any happy story out there? I’d love to read it.

    • David Lozinski

      I will be 27 in march, and not living together is expensive. Is there any happy story out there?

      So KB, the reason you’re living with this guy is to save money? Not out of love, but for financial reasons? If so, this reasserts my opinion as it sounds like another story doomed to fail. :(

  • Leisa

    I think this is an awesome article! I definitely agree with you. I’ve heard stories of both and read a few articles on the pros and cons of cohabitation. As a Christian woman cohabitation before marriage isn’t how I was raised… However, I have lived with a partner almost a yr. I think cohabitation is a horrible idea because you definitely feel like you’re already married, with so little true commitment/obligation to the situation that you could walk away at any moment. It’s almost like there’s no point of being married. What would change? You don’t feel the pressure to make it last because you definitely “slid” into the marriage at that point. In my head I see more of a “why not” *shrugs shoulders* attitude towards getting married once you’re already living together. It’s not about the paper, but the mindset for sure. To me you jump from dating/seeing each other here & there to marriage/moving in & huge changes. It should be something serious and we have taken the big BANG out of it all.