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Living Together
Mom with a View

Living Together

Why do people continue to cohabit before marriage in the face of such daunting odds and dire predictions?


Fifty percent of couples who marry today live together beforehand. Their odds of divorce are two times greater than couples who don’t. (Psychology Today, July/August 2005) . End of argument!

In fact the studies go one step further. Couples who cohabit before marriage have significantly poorer quality of marriages evidenced by less satisfaction, more arguing, poorer communication, and, here’s the surprising part, lower levels of commitment. (Ibid.)

You can draw your own obvious conclusions, but did that latter point really require a scientific study? Living together without being married is inherently a lower level of commitment. If you want a deeper and more lasting commitment you… well… get married.

What amazes me is that people continue to cohabit in the face of these daunting odds and dire predictions. It's become what “everybody does” and it’s hard to stand alone. And the argument is still made that it’s a test of compatibility, even though the evidence suggests it’s an extremely ineffective one.

I have another theory -- based on observation, not science. I think women are afraid to say no. In reasoning contrary to the sensitivity and judgment that has prevailed for thousands of years, women fear they won’t get the guy unless they accede to this request.

"When you leave the door open for quasi-commitment, quasi-commitment is what you get."

Unfortunately the statistics don’t bear this out. It is not in a woman's best interest -- on any level -- to live with a man before marriage.

Judaism has always recognized that real relationships demand real commitment. It's a very practical religion. As Mia Dunleavy, a 39 year-old financial columnist living in Brooklyn says in the Psychology Today piece, "Alas, my only experience of living with someone is that when you leave the door open for quasi-commitment, quasi-commitment is what you get."

As women, I believe the ball is in our court. The feminist movement gave us certain kinds of power while deceptively robbing us of others. But we can reverse the trend. We can create a movement that will be healthier for us and our futures. The "women's liberation" movement claimed that we are as smart as men, if not smarter. Let's read the studies carefully and prove them right.

September 3, 2005

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 23

(22) Anonymous, June 8, 2013 4:33 AM

I'm in co-habitation and not happy at all

I have 4 children with 2 step children. We only moved in 2gether because we moved to another country. Partner convinced me it is the right thing to do.
A year down the line, I have lost my identity, unemployed, because of joining him and kids and in despair.
Advice, don't do it. If you are worth it he'll marry you.
I don't know were we will find ourselves in a years time, but what I do know if we were married, it's easier to stay.
The only reason I'll stay is because I want to give the kids a secured future and by the way all 6 children are his.

(21) Anonymous, November 28, 2006 9:24 PM

Possible explanation

Could it be that the reason people who live together prior to marriage have higher divorce rates is simply because they get married for all the wrong reasons? Like, they just figure it's the next step, and why not? Or could it just be that most of those studies are flawed because they don't take into consideration personal and religious beliefs. For instance, people who get married without living together do so because of religious beliefs or family pressures, etc. which would also make them less likely to divorce. So is it really a fair evaluation when comparing the two groups on the basis of living together or not living together prior to marriage solely?

MESA, May 17, 2018 2:14 PM

Couples who are living together usually say that they're not sure if they would be compatible as a married couple. But it's just those doubts that lead to them divorcing. If they really have doubts about their compatibility, they should be taking a break from dating each other and getting perspective as to what those doubts are. Most couples who get married without living together are the ones who have no major doubts about their relationship. They know it's right and they're in it for the long haul.

(20) Anonymous, September 20, 2005 12:00 AM

i think people who live together dont make a decition to do that they just spend a night and then another and then its a year and its hard to leave so they marry.

(19) Anonymous, September 14, 2005 12:00 AM

Another explanation?

Well, how about a simpler explanation of the statistics? There are people who understand that they are for each other right away and fit together and they don't need any "testing"- they just gat married and make bigger percent of good marriages. And there are people who just think that it might work and might not and they have their doubts in the first place and that what's make the percentage of divorces in this group larger. ?

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