A New Look At Cohabitation Before Marriage

In the mid-’90s Scott Stanley used to often wonder, “what are the odds were that people would stay in their relationships had they not been living together?”

Would You Stay in the Relationship?

Stanley, the co-director of Center for Marital and Family Studies asks this question of people who lived together prior to marriage, “What are the odds you’d be in this relationship if you weren’t living with your boyfriend or girlfriend?” For many people, the answer he receives is: they wouldn’t be.

Stanley surveyed couples married less than 10 years. He found men who had lived with their wives prior to getting married, “rated themselves considerably lower in dedication. ” He found the same was true for women, but to a lesser degree.

Some Men Wouldn’t Have Married

Fellow researchers at the center wondered about the responses, and came to the conclusion that, “Some of these guys, because they moved in before marriage, married someone they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Stanley and his colleague have an “inertia theory of relationships.” What this says is that when you first enter a relationship a number of joy inducing chemicals are released into your body. These chemicals – dopamine, oxytocin – cloud decisions. A person in love starts doing things that “lock” them into a relationship. But after some time a person realizes they might not actually want to be locked in.

But by that time you’ve moved in, gotten joint phone plans, etc… without actually really wanting to be in the relationship. Some girls still hold to the notion that living with a guy means you’re halfway to a ring. But that’s not what men are thinking all the time. And according to Stanley’s research, even the guys that do propose might have more regrets after the fact.

A random-sample study that was published in 2010 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, showed that 20 percent of people who married before living together had divorced. And the divorce rate was 28 percent for those who lived together before getting engaged.

Wait… Date?

Stanley thinks this “locking in” prematurely constrains a person and causes them to cut off other romantic options too soon. Essentially, Stanely is a proponent of “keeping your options open,” at least when you’re young. Essentially, Stanley is proposing that people just, what’s the word for it? Ahh, yes… date.

For questions regarding divorce contact the Law Offices of Korol and Velen, Certified Family Law Specialists.

Source: New York Post, How shacking up leads to divorce, February 9, 2015

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