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Does Living Together Before Marriage Increase Chances of Divorce?

living togetherLiving together? Research has long indicated that couples who wed at a young age are more likely to divorce than their older counterparts. What about couples who choose to move in together before tying the knot?

Living Together – What the Numbers Reveal

Studies suggest that couples who live together actually experience more stress than those who are married. In fact, nearly half of cohabiting couples choose not to get married at all. Of those who do eventually tie the knot, the risk of divorce is higher than for couples who never lived together. However, if those couples make it past seven years in a marriage, the chance for divorce drops off to be equal to the rate for couples who did not cohabitate prior to marriage.  Here are some other facts of note:

  • Couples who live together separate five times more often than married couples do, and reconcile one-third as often.
  • Infidelity is a more likely occurrence for cohabitating couples than for married ones;
  • Domestic violence rates are higher among couples who lived together prior to marriage;
  • Couples who live together before marriage typically earn less than their married counterparts throughout life.
  • Depression and substance abuse levels are higher among couples who cohabitate than for married couples.

Living Together and Commitment Theory

Some research indicates that couples who marry after living together tend to simply slide into the greater commitment of marriage because it seems a logical next step, whereas couples who actually choose to move from single life to marriage make a committed decision. The theory is that couples living together do not weigh the love factor as heavily as those who do not cohabitate.

Age is Still the Key Determining Factor of Marriage Success

On the other hand, according to one researcher, the age at which couples commit is the issue, whether it involves formal I do’s or not. The decision to live together or to get married right out of high school has statistically shaky results. So, how old is old enough?

Studies indicate that by age 23, when most individuals have had the opportunity to graduate from college and achieve financial independence, they are more successful in committed relationships.

Living Together – Erroneous Assumptions

Whether couples decide that cohabitation is a good step for their relationship or not, they should not misconstrue the difference between cohabitation and marriage. Cohabitation is necessarily more ambiguous than marriage, often with lesser commitment and/or responsibility. Many couples view it as a bit of a test, providing an easier way out if circumstances dictate.

Decisions

Clearly, every relationship is different, and each partner brings unique qualities, expectations, and dreams into the union. Decisions regarding cohabitation, marriage, separation, and divorce are serious. Do you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California? When you determine that legal help is necessary, the experienced legal team at Beck Law P.C., can help. Contact us in Santa Rosa for a personal consultation.

(image courtesy of Everton Vila)

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