Cohabitation and Divorce

The meaning of marriage has changed considerably in the past two decades. From being an institution that is supposed to last forever, it has become a relationship that most people dread. For that reason, not many people are comfortable with the idea of marriage anymore and cohabitation is gaining popularity. However, does cohabitation really have anything good to offer?

Why is Cohabitation Becoming Popular These Days?

The fear of a bitter divorce and lack of faith in the “forever and ever” institution has lead many couples to opt for cohabitation arrangements instead of marriages.

In fact, many couples who want to get married feel pressured to try living-in together first – in order to test the waters to see if the relationship works or not. Such couples think that the arrangement will work like a ‘trial marriage’ but sadly, it does not.

Cohabitation Arrangement – Boon or Hindrance?

Recent studies are enough to dispel any faith people might have in the success of cohabitation arrangements before marriage. According to research, cohabitating couples experience significantly more problems after marriage than couples who do not cohabit before marriage.

In addition, cohabitating couples are at a higher risk of facing issues related to alcohol, adultery, independence and drugs than non-cohabitating couples. This study has proved that marriages preceded by a cohabitation arrangement are 50-100% more likely to end up in divorce than marriages between partners who do not cohabit before marriage.

Different Dynamics Lead to a Higher Divorce Rate

Many cohabitating couples like to believe that their relationship is like a marriage without a marriage certificate. However, proponents of cohabitation might find it hard to believe that dynamics of a cohabitation arrangement are very different from that of a marriage.

The level of commitment, responsibility and accountability that is required in a marriage cannot be compared to that of a cohabitation arrangement.

In addition, cohabitation arrangements lack the one thing that can make all the difference to a marriage - communication. How do you go from an ‘asking no questions’ approach to an ‘open and honest communication’ approach all of a sudden?

Cohabitating couples encourage and desire personal independence. Therefore, ‘no questions asked and no answers expected’ approach is followed in the relationship. For that reason, when cohabitating couples get into a marriage, they do not know how to redefine these rules.

Such couples are unable to deal with increased amount of expectations and this leads to misunderstandings and resentment. Cohabitating partners have no sense of commitment towards each other because in most cases, each partner is free to walk out of the door whenever he or she pleases – no questions asked. However, that is not how a marriage works.

In addition, most of the people who cohabit tend to have commitment issues. When a partner who asked no questions in a cohabitating arrangement suddenly shows an inquisitive side, the commitment-phobic partner is likely to feel suffocated.

Therefore, cohabitation arrangements allow the couples to form wrong set of expectations that are hard to correct once the couples get married.

Why Marriage is Better than Cohabitation

  • Married people are emotionally and physically better-off than their unmarried, divorced, or cohabitating counterparts. Married people also tend to live longer.
  • It is common for married people to feel more emotionally satisfied with their lives because they feel strong emotional connection with their spouse. In addition, a marriage provides a strong emotional support system that is lacking in a cohabitation arrangement.
  • Married couples know that they can count on each other anytime and during any set of circumstances. However, cohabitating partners do not even know whether the relationship will get past the next day or not – they are always prepared for the worst.
  • Married couples have a more positive approach towards life because of a strong sense of emotional and physical wellbeing. On the other hand, cohabitating couples are more likely to be anxious and negative because they are never sure about their relationship.

Marriages are Forever

There is a reason why the institution of marriage has been so popular in the past and continues to stay the same even today. The reason is that no other relationship provides a sense of love, fulfilment and comfort as a marriage does. However, it is only when couples can understand what a marriage truly has to offer and what they can offer to a marriage can it work successfully.

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