Is it ok to Live Together First?

A growing trend is for people to live together before getting married.  This almost always implies that a couple is having sex before they are married.  There are good, moral reasons to wait to have sex.  But even ignoring the moral implications of sex before marriage, there are also practical reasons to not live together before marriage.

The reason often given for living together is that it is a trial to find out if the couple can live with one another.  The justification is that it is better to find out before they are married than have to go through a divorce.  While this would sound practical, evidence does not back up this theory.

Instead of having a lower divorce rate for couples who live together first, it is noticeably higher than average.  Different studies have found that couples who live together before marriage have a divorce rate between 70-80%.  Considering the average divorce rate is 50%, couples who live together first are 50% more likely than average to get divorced.

While there may be numerous reasons for this problem, two stand out.  First is that nothing changes with marriage.  The couple can file their taxes together and that is about it.  Everything else is the same.  The question becomes, “Why did they get married?”

The second reason is closely related to the first.  While living together, the couple did not act like a married couple.  They were simply trying things out, seeing if they would work.  If it turned out it didn’t then it proved it was a good idea to live together first and the relationship is broken off.  There is no reason to work through problems because the relationship is ultimately disposable.  The purpose of living together was to find problems, not try to solve them.

The same lax attitude that takes place while living together gets carried over into the marriage.  Because nothing has changed, the couple still acts the same as they did when they weren’t married.  When problems arise, they do not know how to handle them.  Because the relationship wasn’t as serious when they were living together, it isn’t serious as a married couple.  These couples are unable or unwilling to solve their problems and often end up going their separate ways.