Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Maybe it's time to say 'I don't' to living together before marriage?

Andrea Chu/Stock photo | Thinkstock

Attention couples: Are you sure you want to say "I do" to living together?

Proponents of cohabitation might want to rethink their support since more evidence to dismantle the popular belief that living together before marriage helps prevent divorce has come out.

According to Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, couples who move in together before they wed are actually less happy, and more likely to split up.

Story continues below advertisement

"[F]r from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake – or spending too much time on a mistake," she writes, in an opinion piece in The New York Times's SundayReview.

Dr. Jay explains that cohabitation isn't always all it's cracked up to be because many couples simply drift "from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot" to moving in together, without necessarily talking about why or what the move means.

In other words, living together becomes something that "just happened," she says, instead of being the result of a well thought-out decision.

She compares this kind of "sliding, not deciding" to signing up for a 0-percent interest credit card; after a period, when the interest eventually goes up, you feel stuck. Similarly, couples may eventually find that the time, money and effort needed to make a change in their situation can keep them in an unhappy relationship.

"Founding relationships on convenience or ambiguity can interfere with the process of claiming the people we love," Dr. Jay writes. "A life built on top of 'maybe you'll do' simply may not feel as dedicated as a life built on top of the 'we do' of commitment or marriage."

But, of course, there are those couples that defy the statistics. Who knows? Perhaps among them may be Hollywood stars Brad and Angelina, whose engagement was confirmed this weekend after years of living together and raising a family of six children.

Then, there are others who happily live together without ever getting married.

Story continues below advertisement

Couples, what has been your experience?

Report an error
About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.