By Slade Shaw
Author of Why Men Pull Away
Learn exactly what pushes men to leave…and how to NEVER feel abandoned or rejected
When Should You Shift In With a Man?
In today’s no-rules dating game, where there is little social pressure to abstain from sex before marriage, cohabitation has become the name of the game.
The U.S. Census estimates that 70% of couples live together before marrying, and many are choosing cohabitation as an alternative to marriage.
And why not? Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have done it.
Besides, advocates say, commitment is a personal choice that doesn’t need the state’s sanction to be any more valid.
When it comes to relationships and advice, should we be listening to the statistics or should we be following our heart? Or should it be a combination of both?
Are they right? We can’t all be Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, but we can understand how living together affects our chances of living happily-ever-after as a married couple.
First of all, the facts. Although many cohabiting couples believe that living together is a necessary “test run” before marriage, it actually increases their chances of divorcing if they do get married.
Studies even suggest that couples who lived together before getting married feel less satisfied in their marriage and have more negative patterns of communication.
The National Marriage Project published a comprehensive report that addresses the question, “Should We Live Together?”
The report pulls together research from multiple sources to put an end to the myth that living together before the wedding helps your chances of a happy marriage in the long run.
Although addressed to young adults, those of us who are outside its age range should heed its advice.
No matter how much we may think that living together will take our relationship to the next level, it is statistically more likely to damage our relationship in the long term.
One reason may be that men and women view cohabitation differently.
In an article by Cox News Service, Terri Jo Ryan quotes Scott M. Stanley, author of The Power of Commitment:
“Studies show that women consistently misinterpret the meaning of living together…
She’s thinking, ‘We’re on the right track, this is going somewhere’ and he’s thinking, ‘I get to sleep with you every night and I get a clean place to live. Hey, it’s working for me.’”
But here’s the good news…
Like all generalizations, there are exceptions to the rule.
Some couples can live together and later marry with no negative consequences at all.
Other factors may influence the likelihood of a happily committed marriage more than whether or not you lived together beforehand (such as whether you share the same faith, or whether one of you is from a broken home, etc.).
The research cited above is mum on the topic of whether or not couples who have decided to live together permanently suffer the same negative effects as couples who eventually marry.
One fact remains: social pressure does make leaving a marriage a lot harder than leaving a relationship where you were living together.
It says a lot about a man’s degree of commitment when he is willing to tie his financial future to yours by publicly declaring the two of you a couple.
Men today are very much aware of the negative financial impact of divorce, and some may prefer to avoid marriage altogether rather than run the risk.
Every one of us will have our own individual experience of living with a man.
For some, the experience will begin as a grand adventure and end in boredom as what was once special gradually becomes commonplace, and memories of exhilarating dates are replaced by memories of endless nights in front of the television with a takeaway.
Dating is a beautiful period in a relationship that shouldn’t be rushed through when you can still savor the pleasures of single life while also enjoying the pleasures of coupledom.
Whether or not you do decide to live with a man before marriage, do your homework first.
Discuss with your partner how responsibilities will be divided, how you’ll deal with the need for private time, what you’ll do when you’re angry at one another, and what will happen if you do decide to split up.
Simply talking about these issues openly can give you a much better understanding of how compatible you’ll be as roommates.
Discuss what this might mean for the relationship. Is your living arrangement simply a matter of financial convenience, or is it a step toward greater commitment?
I don’t want you to turn this into a marriage proposal, but I want to make sure that you and your man are both on the same page in terms of understanding what living together actually means.
A discussion is best to avoid misunderstandings and heartbreak.
And if it is seen as a road-test for something more permanent, great! It’s a great way of learning more about each other (the good and the bad).
As an aside, if you are looking for greater commitment or want to understand his quirks and peculiarities, check out Why Men Pull Away – it’s a great guide to help you be the girl that finally ‘gets’ him and enables him to open up to you!
And don’t take the statistics too seriously…
When it comes to relationships and advice, if you know the statistics, challenge them to work differently for you and your relationship!
If we let the high divorce rate affect us, none of us would have the courage to get married and defy the odds.
Here’s to happily ever after!