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.