Living Together: Is it (The New Marriage)?
Married In Our Hearts....
"Married In Our Hearts"
It seems like lately everything is "The New Something" 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, and black is the new white! Ok maybe that's going too far. Nonetheless: Is Living Together (The New Marriage)? In 1960 only 460,000 couples identified themselves as living together.
According to Psychology Today nearly 5 million opposite sex couples are living together in the United States. More than 50% of couples that marry today have lived together before hand. There are another 600,000 same sex partners living together.
Weddings in the U.S. Hit 100 Year Low
The following comes from an article Hope Yen of Associated Press recently wrote regarding the state of marriage based upon a census study in 2009.
“In America, marriages fell to a record low in 2009, with just 52 percent of adults 18 and over saying they were joined in wedlock, compared to 57 percent in 2000.
The never-married included 46.3 percent of young adults 25-34, with sharp increases in single people in cities in the Midwest and Southwest, including Cleveland, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, N.M. It was the first time the share of unmarried young adults exceeded those who were married.
Marriages have been declining for years due to rising divorce, more unmarried couples living together and increased job prospects for women.”
Living Together Out of Convenience
In this day and age there are many couples who moved in together NOT as a pre-marriage requirement but simply because it became more convenient than packing an over-night bag and driving across town.
One person was always over the other one's house and they were paying rent for two places or they felt “married in their hearts”.
In fact my guess is more than half of the couples living together moved in without having any "future marriage discussion".
It can begin as easily as leaving a tooth brush, a change of underwear, hair products, and gradually a change of clothes for those times someone sleeps over on Sunday evening and needs them for going to work on Monday. As the relationship progresses keys are exchanged. More and more things are left until a dual residence has been established.
At some point one partner’s place becomes the “primary house” for spending time together. An event occurs such as one person’s lease is about to expire or someone gets a new job, which happens to be closer to his or her significant other’s home
Marriage by Default
As Nancy Wartik wrote in the aforementioned article from Psychology Today “Going from living together to married can happen by accident”
One factor leading to divorce for couples that lived together is they often get married for the wrong reason. Once a couple has lived together for a couple of years it’s not uncommon for family and friends to press them on when they will be taking “the next step.” At friend’s weddings they are asked, “When will it be your turn?”
It’s natural for couples living together to start making purchases together (a new bed, new sofa, entertainment system and in some cases even a home). Many couples purchase a pet. Others experience an “accidental pregnancy”. The couple has now lived together for years, they own a home furnishings and a pet together or possibly have a child and suddenly it just “makes sense to tie the knot”. Some couples get married out of guilt.
John Jacobs, a New York City psychiatrist and author of “All You Need Is Love and Other Lies About Marriage” states: "I know a lot of men who've been living with women for a couple of years, and they're very ambivalent about marrying them. What sways them is a feeling they owe it to her. She'll be back on the market and she's older. He's taken up a lot of her time.”
Another ill-conceived idea is marriage by demand as stated in the following scenario.
“Charles, a 44-year-old New Yorker (who asked that his name be changed), admits that in his 30s, he almost married a live-in girlfriend of three years for reasons having little to do with love. The two moved in together six months after meeting when his sublet came to an end. "I thought it probably wasn't the best idea, but it was so much easier than looking for an apartment," Charles says. "I told myself: 'Keep trying, and maybe it will work. Eventually his girlfriend insisted they either marry or break up, and he couldn't find the strength to leave. The two got engaged. Weeks before the date, Charles realized he couldn't go through with it and broke off the engagement. "Her father told me, 'I'm sorry horsewhips are a thing of the past.”
Fortunately for this couple Charles called off the wedding rather than going through a divorce years later. A lot of couples would have written off his hesitancy as having a case of “cold feet”. They would have gone through with the marriage.
There are those who never want to get divorced and have decided the best way to avoid it is by never getting married. They have the perks of marriage without the risks. Several companies now offer their employees “Domestic Partner Insurance” which can be utilized by both gay and straight couples.
Some couples live together longer than many marriages last. Examples: Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell (29 years) or Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.(23 years recently broke up) Whether you get married or live together there are no guarantees in life. Nothing is written in stone. Just ask Al and Tipper Gore. (40 years marriage and now divorced). The following link contains ten famous couples who have decided to live together rather than get married.
Conflicting Divorce Studies
There have been numerous studies conducted to determine if living together prior to marriage increases the odds of a couple getting divorced. Historically these studies have leaned towards the affirmative. However as is with most studies recent reports indicate that any percentage difference is negligible. In fact is suspected the earlier studies did not take into account the religion factor. Naturally couples grounded in religion are less likely to live together and possibly less likely to have premarital sex. They are also less likely file for divorce. Therefore the difference in divorce rates of couples living together versus those who did not live together had less to do with cohabitation status and more to do with religious beliefs. The following is an article from USA Today with the latest study.
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