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Cohabitation, on the other hand, tends to render me mute. As a researcher of family formation for 30 years, I know quite a bit. What stifles me is my respect for those whose opinions differ from mine. No matter the stance one takes, or if one teeters in the middle, cohabitation can be a touchy subject, particularly with family members. Once rare, cohabitation is now the norm.
It requires no definition and causes hardly a furrowed brow. But is marriage a sure-thing following cohabitation when cohabitation is, by nature, deemed more stressful than marriage? Furthermore, ample research indicates living together before marriage actually decreases the odds of marital success, and may, in fact, make it riskier the longer a couple cohabits. These proclamations, however, dissuade few; after all, cohabitation appears to be so darn logical: it seems like common sense that living with someone first —seeing that person on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis— would improve the odds of marital bliss?
However, I do advise couples to make the decision thoughtfully and to consider all the implications. Take the time to understand facts and myths associated with cohabitation. Reading even a sampling of the research will introduce a hefty matrix of factors moral and religious aspects aside that one should consider when weighing the pros and cons of living together, especially if marriage is the desired outcome.
Not all cohabitation arrangements are equal, of course. Some cohabitating couples never intend to marry; fewer than half of cohabiting unions involve couples committed to marry or who are engaged. Keep in mind that cohabitations tend to fare best for couples already publically committed to each other or who are formally engaged to be married.
Here are some questions that I would advise couples who are thinking about moving in together to consider:. Why live together rather than continue dating or get married? In other words: if you want to eventually be married to this person, make sure that is what your partner wants, too.
This seems a fair question. What do you expect to learn from cohabiting? How will you divide housework and property, or decide who pays the bills? What about children? What core values do you share about raising children, family, religion, finances, work ethic, and general life philosophies? In short, cohabitation demands a thorough understanding of each other's values, including what cohabitation means to you and to your partner.
The bottom line: D o you really want to live with this person? Things to consider before moving in together requires hard work, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice. It is a unique partnership with inherent privileges, responsibilities, meaning, and purpose. In fact, I write this on my 31 st wedding anniversary. I can tell you about the excitement we felt as we planned our life together, and as we moved gifts and belongings into our shared household after the wedding, and as we made discoveries about each other each day as husband and wif e, and the untold joy we realized as our union of two became a family of three, then four.
It took time and energy for us, as individuals, to coalesce into the marriage partners we are today. We learned that marriage requires hard work, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice. It is indeed a unique partnership with inherent privileges, responsibilities, meaning, and purpose. Would we have found this if we had cohabited prior to marriage? Rhonda Kruse Nordin researches and writes on family issues and is a senior fellow with the Center of the American Experiment. Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily Things to consider before moving in together the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.
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Related Posts. MarriageSingle ParentsRace. Marriage, Friendship, and Loneliness by Daniel Cox. MarriageSingle Life. CohabitationPublic Policy. MarriageDivorce and Break-Ups. First Name. Last Name. Address. Institute for Family Studies P. Box Charlottesville, VA michael ifstudies. Contact Interested in learning more about the work of the Institute for Family Studies?
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