Living Together Before Marriage: Relationship Killer or Not?

eHarmony researcher Lindsay Henry reveals whether or not living together before marriage will doom or improve a relationship.

You might be enticed with all the qualities that living together might bring to the relationship. Living together can offer you an opportunity to save money on rent, spend less time commuting back and forth, and gives you ability to spend more quality time together. You may even view living together as a true test of the relationship. While cohabiting, if you can learn to work together as a couple, it might secure your belief that you have found a partner you want to marry.

Over time, researchers have studied this exact idea. They have tried to find out if living together before marriage, without committing first, makes it more likely that divorce will follow. Many studies have discussed the impact of cohabitation before marriage and suggest that cohabiting without being married can lead to lower marriage quality and higher marital distress.

However, Manning & Cohen (2012) have recently suggested that it isn’t necessarily the act of living together before marriage that determines whether or not the marriage will succeed.  For women, marital instability was more likely when there was not a commitment to marriage first (i.e. being engaged or even having significant plans towards engagement and marriage). Interestingly enough, results for men were not the same. A man’s marital stability was not impacted by whether he committed to marriage before cohabiting.

So, where does this leave your dreams of saving money on rent and more time spent with your loved one? If you are trying to “divorce proof” your relationship by testing the waters and living together, you may want to consider committing first.

Although current research shows men may not experience increases in divorce if there isn’t a commitment before cohabiting, women are different. That said, there are two parties in your relationship and it’s important to take into account how your decision (or lack thereof) to commit to your partner may affect the situation long-term.

What do you think about living together before an engagement or marriage?

Further Reading:

Manning, W. D., & Cohen, J. A. (2012). Premarital cohabitation and marital dissolution: An examination of recent marriages Journal Of Marriage And Family, 74 (2), 377-387 DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00960.x

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