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Marital Satisfaction, Health and Happiness: Part 5

couple in tatoosOnce upon a time, all the way back in the 50s, there was only marriage and sin.  And then came the 60s and 70s and alternative lifestyles that popped up all over the place.  Most especially couples simply living together before marriage. Since then marriage rates have declined while the number of couples that live together has gone up tenfold. Co-habitating has morphed into a virtue in the eyes of most Americans.   In fact, for the first time in U.S. history more couples are living together compared to those who are married and this trend is continuing.[i] About a quarter of unmarried women age 25 to 39 are living with a partner.  And about 53% of all first marriages were preceded by living together.[ii] This pattern is also prevalent in Europe and Australia where cohabitors outnumber married folks.

 

More and more couples are simply packing up their things, moving in and sharing digs.  They say it’s because they want to try things out before marriage, a test drive so to speak, with their partner—to avoid a bad marriage.  Some say it is more convenient, more economical. Especially in hard financial times.  A fewer-strings-attached, safer, more economically sound alternative to tying the knot.

 

Usually the decision happens without a great deal of planning or discussion.   For a younger woman in her 20s or 30s it may seem like a natural but unspoken step before marriage.  For her male counterparts, on the other hand, the moving-in decision may have little to do with eventually saying “I do,” according to a 2006 study[iii]. Also, for older couples who have already been through the family-children-divorce scenario, moving in together is the endpoint companionship they seek–the relational Holy Grail.  So is co-habitating a good thing or is it bad for your relationship?

 

But before I share a real live story with you, I want you to take advantage of my ongoing FREE support now . You can learn EXACTLY how to find and attract the one, how to tell the DUDs from the STUDs, how to go from casual to a real commitment and much much more by subscribing to my Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter, absolutely FREE!  Click Here to get started now.

 

Now back to our story. Shelley, a sparkly 30 year old graduate student in Public Health, serendipitously found Jared, her super secret crush from high school on Facebook.  They wrote on each other’s walls, chatted up a storm, flirted like crazy and fell deeply into what seemed to be a magical connection.  They used the L word liberally with each other and called each other smoochie names.  Cut to one year later.  Shelley’s apartment lease was up. Jared, web designer geek, had a roomy, but nick-nacked loft downtown, close to Shelley’s school and she was spending so much time at his place…  And so they decided she would move in.  There was not much discussion about it. Shelley ensconced herself complete with Miffles the cat, right in the midst of Jared’s clutter.  And promptly began to reorganize and clean it all up.  Shelly had been through this before, when she lived with her ex, Jonathan.  She was used to putting her touch on a guy place.  Things ended badly with Jonathan, when his drinking buddies took over the place one time too many.

 

But this time Shelley felt differently.  She knew in every cell of her body, down to the tips of her toes that Jared was the One.  Shelley was absolutely sure that they would have the whole white-picket-fence future, complete with 2 dogs, 3 kids and, of course, Miffles II.

 

OK we will cut away from Shelley and Jared’s cozy loft nest to give you, dear reader, a quiz.  Do you think that this couple is likely to:

 

a)      Live together happily ever after
b)      Get married and go through a yucky divorce
c)      Live together unhappily ever after
d)     Part ways after about a year and a half
e)      Not enough information

 

Additional research done over the last 15 years sheds light on what might happen to our daring duo. To learn all about the surprising answers, be sure to catch Part II.

[i] The 2005 Current Population Survey. Available at www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2005

 

[ii] Larry Bumpass and Hsien-Hen Lu, (2000) “Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children’s Family Contexts in the U.S.,” Population Studies54:29-41.

 

[iii] G.K. Rhoades, S.M. Stanley and H.J.  Markman, “Pre-engagement Cohabitation and Gender Asymmetry in Marital Commitment,” Journal of Family Psychology, 2006, 20, 553-560.

[i] Contact author for references

 

Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show & author of the highly acclaimed new book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love” as well as the best-selling author of “Love in 90 Days.” Dr. Diana’s revolutionary work is the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her FREE Dating and Relationship Advice Newsletter.

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