Does living together before marriage increase a couple’s chances of divorce? It’s an important question for Farmington Hills divorce lawyers, given the astounding increase in cohabitation in Michigan and throughout the U.S.
In the last 50 years, the number of couples living together outside of marriage has gone up almost exponentially, from 450,000 in 1960 to over 7.5 million today.
Of course, some of those couples never marry. But many do, and cohabitation comes before more than half of all marriages in America.
To many young people in their twenties, this seems like a prudent step. After all, marriage is a big commitment. The premise, then, is that if the trial period of testing compatibility during cohabitation is a pragmatic way to avoid the pain of divorce.
The empirical evidence, however, indicates otherwise. Research shows that couples who have lived together before marriage tend to be less satisfied with their marriages when the knot is finally tied. They are also more likely to divorce – to untie that knot – than couples who did not cohabitate.
Why does cohabitation have this effect? Researchers are not certain. But they suspect that part of the cause may be due to cohabitation itself – which sometimes comes about without sufficient forethought and commitment.
For example, suppose two people in a dating couple are sleeping over at each other’s places frequently. They may end up moving in together because it’s more convenient, as well as more economical.
Social scientists see this scenario so often they even have a term for it: sliding, not deciding.
Source: “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage,” Meg Jay, New York Times, 4-14-12