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Old 27th October 2009, 01:18 AM   #1
Ageing Grace
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Living together before marriage

I read this article in the press, which Dave flagged in his quarterly review. It says that couples who cohabited before marrying were twice as likely to divorce (couples who moved in together after engagement fell in the middle of those two statistics).

I am unconvinced that this tells us anything at all. Here's why.
Couples decide to live together for one of four reasons:
1] They specifically want not to marry (I have a friend like this; I understand her reasons. She's been with her partner for 20 years).
2] It's a convenience arrangement.
3] They like being together, but aren't committed enough to marry.
4] They're trying out before signing the contract.
Only the last of these are likely to marry. The second and third might tie the knot for reasons unrelated to lasting love: social pressures; children (in circumstances where unmarried parents could prejudice the child's fortunes); perhaps finance.

Their chances of staying together, given their weak commitment in the first place, would seem slim. In the survey, 4 out of 5 of them had stayed together. I think that speaks well of marriage, and of couples' levels of moral integrity!

In so far as there is a tradition of cohabiting before marriage - the tradition is only 40 years old in Europe; less in the USA - the fourth reason would be the commonest. Did living together, pre-wedding, make them more disposed to divorce?
Quote:
Dr Rhoades said:

‘Cohabiting to test a relationship turns out to be associated with the most problems in relationships. Perhaps if a person is feeling a need to test the relationship, he or she already knows some important information about how a relationship may go over time.’
I think he said it there. However, would you prefer that fewer people get married because of this doubt?

One in eight of the living-together-while-engaged couples were heading for divorce. This means that 7 out of 8 (88%) of them were still happy after 10 years married! Does this really indicate that cohabiting is bad for marriage?

Taking all the survey statistics together, it suggests an overall divorce rate of 25% which I believe is right for the US.

Out of the sample of one thousand, 70% had lived together before getting married - that's 700 couples from a sample of 1,000. 31% of them had serious relationship problems.

Only 300 couples in the sample had married without living together. This 30% is representative of all marriages in the US.

They had a problem rate of 10%. Being less than a third of married couples - that is, the different minority - they don't constitute a reliable sample on their own. They could have been the lucky 30% who knew they'd met their perfect match, or all 300 could have married at a Moonie mass wedding ...

For me, the above is statistical proof that this survey proves nothing. If you want to look at it in more ordinary terms: Yes, couples who lived together before marriage have a higher risk of divorce. But many of those couples wouldn't have married at all, if they hadn't lived together!

It is basically impossible to compare marriage in our current time - where the majority of couples live together - with marriage in situations where the 'trial' option doesn't exist. The reason is that living together automatically becomes an option when a woman's choices become broader.

Before the mid-20th century a woman could not earn a decent living independently. Additionally, she could not rear children independently but could not restrict her fertility. There were no divorce settlements in favour of wives; no childcare agreements; wife beating was not a crime; a wife could not buy property or write her own will. Essentially, marriage was a financial necessity - and a social requirement.

We wouldn't want to go back to those days, but my point is that marriage in Western societies is now about love & commitment, for the first time in history.

To say that trial cohabitation damages marriage is nonsensical. Trial cohabitation is proof, more than anything, that couples are taking the commitment seriously - along with their compatibility & everyday issues - and, most importantly, are marrying for love. This is something to be celebrated, surely, not despised!

Incidentally, the christian marriage ceremony was invented 450 years ago (link). Before that it was a matter of civil agreement ... which is what we now call "cohabiting"

AG

Last edited by Ageing Grace; 27th October 2009 at 01:39 AM. Reason: corrected a calculation
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Old 28th October 2009, 01:01 PM   #2
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

In a sense people cohabiting are married.

The difference between them and others who have a marriage ceremony is that the latter is showing an upfront commitment before tasting the goods. I think that is honouring to the woman personally.

Raymond
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Old 28th October 2009, 05:13 PM   #3
Ageing Grace
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Re: Living together before marriage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond View Post
In a sense people cohabiting are married.
I do agree with you, Raymond!

I think most couples take it that way, too. Couples who move in together when they get engaged are stating that they've chosen to spend their lives together; also that they view the wedding as a permanent seal.

It saddens me when commentators use the figures to imply that living together makes a marriage less likely to succeed. The researchers themselves did NOT say that, but the study was widely (mis)reported as if it did.

I see what you mean about marriage & honour - however, as most of us intend our wedding vows to be forever (despite what you read in the press!), I also see the sense in trying to iron out major incompatibilties before taking those vows.

Thank you for the feedback
AG
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Old 29th October 2009, 01:02 PM   #4
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

We disagree on only one point AG. I think sex and virginity is too precious to give up just for a tryout. I would never have dishonoured my wife by doing that and she would not have done anyway and that is one of the reasons I respect her. I committed myself to my wife because of who she is. I didn't need to try her out by living with her or test her in bed before committing myself to her.

Part of my views come from a Christian perspective so obviously they will clash with your views but we have done well on agreeing with what we do agree on.

Raymond
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Old 29th October 2009, 06:05 PM   #5
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

I think the honourable thing is to marry her Manticore, having slept with her, which you are doing.

In a way, as discussed previously, you are married to her as you have carried out the act of marriage. You are just doing it back to front in my view. But you know that I have the christian view.

Raymond
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Old 31st October 2009, 10:19 PM   #6
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

Fear of losing ones daughter is hardly a good motivation for getting married Jellybean but in a way as described above he is married. They have shared a bed and have children. You have made a judgment that it will not last but is that really the truth. Who knows.

One has to think of the children his girlfriend and him as they are a unit. Normally my motivation is to build and improve a marriage so I find it difficult to say to him don't get married on the strength that it will not last.

I think there are a lot worse things he can do in the situation than getting married.

Raymond
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Old 1st November 2009, 01:03 PM   #7
jellybean28
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Re: Living together before marriage

Thanks Raymond,

I have read lots of your posts and you give some very good advice, when you share a problem with someone else the answer often becomes very clear.

Your right the best thing I can do is support them in a positive manner.
I don't speak up much when they constantly argue infront of visitors and the children, but I will have to learn to in a positive and supportive way, as their argueing and they way she pushes the older daughter away is unacceptable.

Yes I can't live their lives for them but I can certainly give the guidence and support.
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Old 1st November 2009, 01:34 PM   #8
j92cool
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Re: Living together before marriage

I know what you mean jellybean. My eldest son is 25 and has been living with his girlfriend for about 12 months. My son has suffered with mental illness which he has under control and she is so understanding. They are now expecting a baby late February. (my first grandchild). She is a lovely girl and I think my son has done very well for himself. I would like them to marry before the baby is born but I don't feel confortable in telling them so. I lived my my husband for a while before we were married but had Daniel when we had been married for 2 years. I would like them to marry but will support them no matter what their decision is.

It almost seems the norm to live together and even hav children without marrying these days and I feel very old fashioned with my beleifs.
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Old 2nd November 2009, 01:58 PM   #9
jellybean28
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Re: Living together before marriage

I have simlilar beliefs j92cool, date, courtship, marriage then kids, but the norm these days is kids first then marriage.

What upsets me is the girls often want the white dress and the church wedding with all the trimmings.
I feel this is why so many marriage don't work these days as for so many it's about the celebrations, not about the sacredness of the vows they make to God in Church.

My concern with my son is he has really low self-esteem and other problems and while his partner is a nice enough girl, she likes to get her own way and is rather immature.

In my case I went out with my husband for five years - while it would have been more convienent for us to have lived together for the last couple of years, my parents would not hear of it. In fact had I disobayed them, they consequences would have been for them to wipe their hands of me. Funny these days so many kids would tell their parents where to go.

Still I am proud to have old fashioned beliefs and values, but I am open minded enough to try and understand todays modern world. Goodness I feel so old lol
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Old 10th November 2009, 03:03 PM   #10
SweetBride202
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Re: Living together before marriage

As a parent it's hard to accept the modern way... especially when your kids grow up so fast, the next thing you know is they're living together with someone... not even married yet. But that's how it goes nowadays and it's very hard to control it. Even in very conservative countries, this is happening.
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Old 10th November 2009, 06:00 PM   #11
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

We've always taught ours that sex only belongs in marriage. As they are our children and christians it doesn't seem to be a problem. The oldest married last year. The youngest is still twenty. I don't think he will do that when he meets the one who is for him. I have been amazed at their morality in spite of the peer pressure. Certainly they have behaved better than I did before I was a christian.

Raymond
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Old 14th November 2009, 11:54 AM   #12
crystatips52
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Re: Living together before marriage

Hi Everyone
I'm a newbie and just found the site because I was looking for information on being Christian and living with someone before marriage.

There is another reason for living together before marriage and that is because one of the people isn't divorced.

In my case I am widowed and met Alex not long after my husband died nearly five years ago. We immediately clicked but it was too soon for me and his marriage was in severe difficulties. His wife is not a Christian.

We never saw each other for over three years although kept in touch infrequently with phone calls and texts. He has been separated for three years but unable to get divorced yet.

I am 57 and he is 61. Last November we met up again and the magic was still there. I was living with my daughter and family and so Alex moved down from Scotland to be nearer. Now we are planning to move back to Scotland for a while and to be married asap.

Alex, myself, my daughters and son-in-law and grandchildren are Christians and we attend a Baptist church.

I don't feel as if we are doing the wrong thing but are feelings the thing to go on? We are engaged and the paperwork to get married is ready to go once the divorce is finalised.

My questions are - are we wrong to cohabit before marriage and what if a spouse refuses to divorce someone even when the marriage has broken down?

Regards
Crystal
PS I was not the cause of the breakdown of Alex's marriage and in fact he did a lot to keep it going after he met me.
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Old 16th November 2009, 02:04 PM   #13
Raymond
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Re: Living together before marriage

As a christian you will know that sex outside marriage is not right.

As to Alex not being able to get his divorce. You are dealing here with the law of the land and not particularly christian principles.

I know that marriage can break down and people have been successfully married following divorce. If you are determined to marry nothing can stop that not even religion. If you are going to do it there should be some kind of public comittment to each other in lieu of a formal legal church wedding.

I do not know the reason for Alex's seperation from his wife so it is hard to make a judgment but just to start sleeping with him doesn't ring true to me.

Raymond
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Old 23rd February 2010, 06:59 PM   #14
lisa3159
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Re: Living together before marriage

I would have to agree with you. My husband and I lived together for 2 years prior to our marriage and after only one year, things still are not going well!
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Old 7th July 2010, 05:15 AM   #15
chosen
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Re: Living together before marriage

crystatips
I do think that as a Christian you know what God clearly says about sex outside marriage. Why has he been unable to get divorced for three years? If he is not yet divorced then you need to wait till he is before living together (after you have married).
Yes God does allow divorce and remarriage for certain reasons,such as sexual immorality. My husband and I are both previously divorced, but your man is still married to another women and therefore you are committing adultery. Also I hope that you dont mind me saying, but to have stayed in frequent contact with him when you knew his marriage was in trouble wasnt wise or kind, as that may not have helped him to focus on his marriage 100% and trying to make it work. He still needs to be doing this especially as it seems his wife doesnt want a divorce.

I woud step right back and stay living apart till he is no longer married, and even then ask God what He wants you to do.God knows best and you need to make sure this is what He wants and not just what you want.Seek God and his will for you. All I do know is that God doesnt want you to be living with a man who you arent married to, and who is still married to another women.
To be honest crystatips, I wouldn't want to marry a Christian guy who thinks it is ok to have sex with a woman while he is till married to another and who isnt yet married to you. To me that is a big red flag. He is clearly disobeying God. He isnt putting God first, and is that what you want?

Last edited by chosen; 7th July 2010 at 05:19 AM. Reason: spellings
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