29 February 2012

Why Do Couples Who Live Together Divorce?


By John London

Opinion is wildly divided on whether couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced than those who don't. Some studies have shown divorce rates up to 80 percent higher for unmarried cohabiting couples, while others suggest there is no significant difference. It does seem, however, that there is at least a prima facie case to suggest that co-habitation before marriage does raise the chances of a couple getting a divorce over and above the accepted average.


One reason that has been cited for the higher divorce rates of cohabiting unmarried couples is their lack of commitment to the institution of marriage. Clearly the less moral, emotional and spiritual value people place on marriage, the more their ties to the institution will be weaker as a whole and divorce will come much easier. A couple who are cohabiting before marriage have shown they place a lesser value on the institution of marriage than others who take a more rigid and traditional approach.

Peer Pressure

It is possible that those who have cohabited for long periods before marriage eventually end up getting married for a wrong reason, such as peer pressure -- either from the other partner or family and friends or all three. Sometimes people can cohabit without very strong relationship bonds in the first place. The marriage may not have been any momentous decision -- just one they drifted into. Because the relationships were not overly committed to begin with, clearly the marriage is at more risk of ending in divorce.


It can be argued that those who do not cohabit before marriage are generally more morally conservative than those who do. Therefore they are less likely to be divorced. They place a higher value on the institution and perhaps will endure a greater degree of marital strain than others before -- if at all -- succumbing to divorce. Those who do cohabit could be seen to be of a more liberal persuasion and will be inherently more inclined to treat divorce as a less important act than others.


People who cohabit before marriage may have unrealistic expectations of what marriage is all about. They may have an unrealistic, "rose-tinted" view of marriage and believe that once the act is done their previously shaky or fractious relationship will settle into a phase of domestic bliss. They may be very surprised to discover that after marriage not much has changed because the fundamental underlying causes of their poor relationship have not been changed.


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