‘Till death do us apart’ has been replaced with ‘as long as I am happy’

Lots of young couples nowadays think that moving together is the first big step they make together and in the common belief it pretty much acts like a pre-marriage. The mentalities have changed drastically in the last decades. If before a young couple moving together was seen like a bad thing and made both partners subject to all kind of stereotypes, today moving together as a couple starts to get as common and as insignificant as possible. But does this really work as a milestone for the new couple?

A Columbia University study cited in New Woman magazine found that “only 26% of women surveyed and a scant 19% of the men married the person with whom they were cohabiting.” In the United States about 40% of the couples moving together before marriage break up before even getting to know each other better.

If you will find yourself in a situation where you break up with your partner before getting married, then you are really lucky that things did not go any further. In the case of the people that managed to get married, the studies show that they are prone to a higher separation and divorce rate. “Unions begun by cohabitation are almost twice as likely to dissolve within 10 years compared to all first marriages: 57% to 30%.” says the National Survey of Families and Households. Sociologists found a direct relationship between cohabitation and divorce when investigating over 8,000 ever-married men and women (Hall and Zhoa 1995:421-427). They agree upon the idea that living in a non-marital union has a negative impact on the lives of the partners, therefore it “undermines the legitimacy of formal marriage” and “reduces the commitment of marriage.”

If you are one to think that a divorce will be the worst thing that can happen in your life then sure enough you have the alternative of spending your entire marriage unhappy. A study by researchers Alfred DeMars and Gerald Leslie (1984) found that those who live together prior to marriage scored lower on tests rating satisfaction with their marriages than couples who did not cohabit.

The repercussions of moving together before marriage and/or the causes of the high divorce rate after getting married from such a situation involve some other aspects too. Some of them are the following:

– the high divorce rate can also be certified by the sexual activity of partners prior to marriage (the National Survey of Family Growth researched that an increase odd of divorce by 60% happens to women who are nonvirgin brides); On the same note have been done researches showing that if the partners have had premarital sex are more prone to have future affairs outside their relationship (Forste and Tanfer 1996:33-47);

-once the partners have decided to move together they will most probably live in a situation of a fleeting romance rather than a lasting relationship. The sociologists argue that the young couples will live in a “marriage of convenience” or a “marriage of compatibility” rather than one of commitment;

-the idea of a “trial” marriage will most of the times disappoint the partners as they will most likely search to accommodate their significant other rather than seeing things from an objective point of view. As we are referring to young couples I find the reference to Laura Schlessigner’s book “Ten stupid things women do to mess up their lives” more than appropriate. It appeals to this matter in a fun and comic way that can help anyone.

-the risks of a superficial or significantly weaker marriages are not strange amongst couples living together beforehand. DeMars and Leslie’s research in 1984 say that “the mind and spirit takes the time and commitment of a true marriage to develop at its fullest” and that the “physical attraction is insufficient glue”.

Taking into consideration all these facts what would you do? Would you risk for a 40% chance to see if your food is better than the one of his/her mother?


Andra Tirnovan


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