Living Together Before Marriage
Psychological Findings Suggest Living Together Before Marriage Can Increase Odds of Divorce
In years past, parents forbid their sons and daughters from living together before marriage. Many were sneaking around and pretended to have separate living situations, but few were fooled. The young folks argued that they needed to know if they could really get along with the other and living together was the best way to find out.
Interestingly, there are psychology studies, research and findings about whether premarital cohabitation matters and has any real effect on the outcome of a marriage. They call it the “premarital cohabitation effect.”
You may read the article in Psychology Today, Premarital Cohabitation and the Odds of Divorce: The latest. In this Scroggins Law Group article, we aim to point out a few of the more noteworthy observations in response to the article.
Living Together Before Marriage When Children Are Involved
In our recent divorce and family law podcast, Mark L. Scroggins talked about introducing your children to a new partner and potential stepparent. There is a good reason Mark suggested people wait for at least six months before making an introduction to the children. He also strongly suggests you wait another three to six months after the initial introduction before there are any overnights.
The last thing you want to do is expose children to a revolving door of love interests. As the saying goes, you might need to kiss many frogs before finding your prince and leaving the children out of the process until the right person comes along is important for increased stability and reassurances among children and their parents.
Protecting Yourself and Your Children Before Living Together or Getting Married Again
If you are considering getting married again and you have children, protecting your children should be your priority. If you have assets and money from your prior divorce settlement or judgment, protect those for the sake of your children.
Consider the protection of a premarital agreement or establish a trust to protect property and assets from becoming community property. The last thing you want to do is lose what you had to benefit your children if your second marriage ends in divorce. Mark L. Scroggins can put you in touch with the right divorce financial professionals to accomplish these goals.
Some Studies Report No Impact on Premarital Cohabitation
Getting engaged and having serious sit-down talks about marriage, children, work and more can make or break your chances at everything working out.
Being engaged before living together was a key factor in many studies of couples who “had an edge in odds for doing well in marriage compared to those who started living together before clarifying the big question.[i]”
Theories on Increased Risk of Divorce When Couples are Living Together Before Marriage
Three main theories about living together before marriage leading to worse outcomes involve concepts of selection of your partner, the experience of cohabitation changing things and the inertia of cohabitation pushing a couple into marriage with fewer opportunities to think it over.
A summary of the three theories:
- Selection: People with economic disadvantage are more likely to live tougher outside of marriage or in contemplation of marriage; Having a child with another outside of marriage may cause cohabitation before a marriage that does not work out; and Religion, tradition and family history can be tied to our selection of partners and an urge to live together before marriage in a way that implies like minds are safer when sticking together.
- Cohabiting Changes Things: Studying attitudes about love, marriage and divorce tends to suggest that we build our beliefs around behavior. The short-term benefit of experiencing living together when transitioning into marriage is something people wrap their beliefs and values around, almost justifying the cohabitation after the fact.
- The Inertia of Living Together: People who live together before marriage are more likely to break up than decide to not live together before getting married. If you are already living together it is harder to break up because you would have to move. Therefore, people who otherwise might have needed to break up will otherwise stay together and get married. The reasons they might have wanted to break up become the reasons they divorce.
Everyone is Different, and Can Overcome Statistics and Studies
Psychological researchers can opine all they want on statistics and studies, but they cannot change the human experience. Sometimes two people who are not a likely match end up being the best matched couple. When living together before marriage they may either learn that they are very compatible in ways they might not have known had they waited to get married to cohabit.
Considering children again, there are serious concerns about moving into a household with a partner and their children. It is not fair to children and in their best interests to be asked to adjust to someone new, only to have them leave soon if it is not working out.
Mark Scroggins on Mental Health Professionals
When the topic of mental health professionals arises, attorney Mark L. Scroggins, Board-Certified in family law, frequently suggests people talk to a good therapist they like. Nothing is wrong with engaging mental health professionals. We all suffer from stress and life anxiety. Mental health professionals are effective at helping us sort out our concerns and thoughts by putting things into context. They may ask us our internal process for decision making. Most people make decisions based on emotion and later justify them with logic.
Often after a marriage does not work out we want assurances our second marriage will be better. A mental health professional talking to you about living together before marriage might push you to find out if you are jumping too quickly into another marriage out of a need of stability or certainty in life. A good mental health professional will help you lead yourself to the answers.
About Scroggins Law Group
Mark L. Scroggins and his team at Scroggins Law Group know why marriages fail. As we are all different people, we all have different reasons for love, marriage and divorce. Where we can all help one another make smarter decisions, don’t we have an obligation to do that?
If despite your best efforts, your marriage does not work out or if you are recently divorced and are looking for guidance about a new marriage, calling Scroggins Law Group makes sense because we have the resources to help you whether you need a divorce or a phone number to a trusted professional who can help with your situation.
Call Scroggins Law Group in Dallas at (214) 469-3100. Mark L. Scroggins is Board-Certified in Family Law in Texas by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He and his team of talented trial lawyers, paralegals and support staff can help you today.
[i] Psychology Today: Premarital Cohabitation and the Odds of Divorce: The Latest. By Scott M. Stanley Ph.D., Posted Nov. 3, 2018.