Couples who Live Together Before Marriage More Likely to Divorce

Couples who Live Together Before Marriage More Likely to Divorce

The most Emailed New York Times article today is “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage” by clinical psychologist Meg Jay.

Jay writes that two-thirds of Americans in their twenties believe that living together before marriage is like getting a vaccination against divorce. “If we can live together and get along…” the logic goes, “then we can get married and live happily ever after.”

But researchers have discovered that the opposite is true. Rates of satisfaction in marriage are significantly lower, and divorce rates are significantly higher among the half of all American couples who live together before marriage.

But why?

Meg Ray explains that dating couples often “slide” into cohabitation rather than consciously choose together to take this important step.

Jennifer, who lived with her boyfriend for four years and whose marriage ended in divorce after only one year, explained the following:

“We were sleeping over at each other’s places all the time,” she said. “We liked to be together, so it was cheaper and more convenient. It was a quick decision but if it didn’t work out there was a quick exit.”

“[Jennifer] was talking about what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

And, similarly, once they are already living together, many couples feel inevitably “locked in” to marriage. Meg Ray explains:

“…couples happily split the rent on a nice one-bedroom apartment. They share wireless and pets and enjoy shopping for new furniture together. Later, these setup and switching costs have an impact on how likely they are to leave.

“Jennifer said she never really felt that her boyfriend was committed to her. “I felt like I was on this multiyear, never-ending audition to be his wife,” she said. “We had all this furniture. We had our dogs and all the same friends. It just made it really, really difficult to break up. Then it was like we got married because we were living together once we got into our 30s.”

What nachas it gives me to see (yet again) that the Torah’s wisdom on love and marriage and EVERYTHING isn’t closed-minded and backwards and illogical…it’s RIGHT ON!

Read the entire article at this link


  1. It is simply logical that a guy who is decent enough to wait for you until marriage will be a decent husband and a considerate partner. The insistence on the man’s part to be intimate sooner speaks of his general attitude in favor of short-term goals and instant gratification, a character trait that brings instability to any relationship.

  2. Well said devorah

  3. What is “logical” or even “reasonable” is not always what is true.

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