Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Co-Habitating! Once Again, The Headlines Can “Dupe” You

posted by Michele Olson
All kinds of news is coming out on co-habitating, or in real people speak; living together. The headlines in mainstream publications like USA Today say: Report: Cohabiting has little effect on marriage success.
That’s not entirely true.

When you read past the headline and get further into the article, you'll find the most important part. It backs up what we at have always encouraged you to do before you move in together. Take a moment to ask yourself some questions. We wonder: are you engaged or have firm plans to marry before you decide to move in?
If you’ve talked about it and neither of you expects marriage to come out of your decision, you probably don’t care about statistics regarding marital success from former co-habitors. But, if you do care, and you do want your relationship to lead to marriage at some point, you need to look at the statistics and ask some important questions. When you get past the headline and the first few paragraphs in the USA Today article ,you’ll find it’s the nature of your commitment that matters. Here's the tragedy; many couples never ask the questions or talk about it before moving in!

Couples making “living together” choices based on faith tenants have a clear benchmark with which to make their decisions. Those not making choices based on faith tenants still need to be diligent about asking themselves some questions before they commit to a partner by living together. Too many couples just move in together without asking anything about the future, often with one party assuming more than the other partner has committed to, even verbally. The headlines never tell the story of the heartbreak and heartache that happens when the couples split.
Coined in a phrase as “sliding vs. deciding”, many couples don’t stop and think about what moving in together may mean for their future. They make assumptions that it will lead to marriage, often their desire, when the other party has no intention of it leading to marriage. They react on feelings. While that seems really wonderful in the movies, it doesn’t work in real life.

So here's the question again: are me and my partner on the same page about this relationship leading to in marriage in an agreed upon time frame?

If you and your partner have not talked about this, and you don’t have a clear idea of how you are going into the future, it’s time to put everything on pause until you do have the answers that matter to you. Perhaps the USA Today headline should read:
The Nature of Your Commitment Level When You Co-habitate Will Affect Your Future Success in Marriage

At least then it would cause all the confused people reading the stories to ask each other some important questions about the nature of their own commitment. Then the article would be helping people with their future rather than just promoting an “our statistics are better than your statistics” agenda.

At the end of the day, people will make their own choices. As relationship educators, we don’t make decisions for people - we just want them to have the facts and knowledge to make good decisions for themselves. So, here’s another question: what’s the “nature” of the article you are reading when you make your life decisions? Is your well-being the main concern of the writers?

Excerpt from USA Today article:
The report takes a closer look at those who live together before marriage, including race and ethnicity, education level, upbringing and whether couples were engaged when they moved in.

"There's a real difference in the types of cohabitations out there," Mosher says. "We can show that now with these national data."

The data show that those who live together after making plans to marry or getting engaged have about the same chances of divorcing as couples who never cohabited before marriage. But those who move in together before making any clear decision to marry appear to have an increased risk of divorce.

Men who were engaged when they moved in with their future spouse had about the same odds that their marriage would last at least 10 years as those who didn't live together before the wedding: 71% for engaged men and 69% for non-cohabiting men. Among engaged women, the probability the marriage would survive for 10 years was similar (65%) to the probability for women who didn't cohabit (66%).

That's a finding Scott Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, sees in smaller samples. For Stanley, the "nature of commitment at the time of cohabitation is what's important."
- By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY 3-2-2010

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