compared to Marriage
Public opinion on
cohabitation has changed drastically. At one time it was seen as immoral
to cohabit, and even illegal. But today people are less judge mental and
cohabitation today is a personal choice; and a popular one at that, with
more than half of marriages being preceded with cohabitation.
How many cohabiters
break up? About 40% end the relationship within five years, and 55% end
up getting married. Of the cohabiters that do marry, their chance of divorce
is between 40-85%.
Researchers have tried to come up with reasons why this might be so; Both cohabiting and married couples live together, so what is the difference? It may all be in our heads; Being married symbolizes commitment and dedication to the other person, whereas cohabiting doesn't. Cohabiters may also have different mind sets, being more afraid of commitment or less dedicated to the relationship.
The divorce rate for couples who cohabit before marriage is higher. Why? Some may think it's because they marry for the wrong reason-- because they've been living together, so they figure they might as well get married.
Or, couples that feel cohabitation is a good step may feel less strongly about marriage in general, and once married, are less likely to be committed, making it easier to divorce.
Yet another thought is that those who are using it as a "trial marriage" aren't ready for the commitment of marriage, and have the attitude that if things go badly, they can leave. That attitude carries on into the actual marriage.
But breakups of cohabiters
aren't necessarily easier than getting an actual divorce. Both people
can be emotionally stressed by it, and fights occur over who gets what.
So whether you cohabit or marry and how that affects your relationship may be purely psychological. Deciding to dedicate yourself to a marriage ceremony and marriage may change the way you mentally view your relationship and make you more dedicated to preserving the relationship.
One difference is cohabiters that only cohabit with their future spouse; In this case, the divorce rates are much lower than for couples that have cohabited with more than one person.
to live with their prospective marital partners can take comfort from
the finding that if they have premarital sex and cohabit only with their
future husband, it should have no effect on their future chance of divorce,"
says Jay Teachman, sociologist, at Western Washington University, who
conducted a study on women who have premarital sex or cohabit before marriage.
people a goal-- a sense of purpose in life that's larger than they are"
- Linda Waite, professor of sociology, University of Chicago
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