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: would you cohabitate 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?
To me it can be summed up in a word:
When people cohabitate before marriage, 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. People who do cohabitate before marriage hear this often enough: “When are you two getting married?”
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 before marriage 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! (you can post anonymously)