Dating AdviceRelationships

Cohabiting Before Marriage Necessarily Won’t Doom Your Relationship

Your 20s are a period for big decisions (good and bad). And if you are in a serious relationship, the thought of when you should move in together starts to materialize over your head among all the other life planning you’re doing. Will you live separately till (if?) you get married? Or is there some truth behind “Try it before you buy it”?

Rent.com recently lead a nationally illustrative survey of 1,000 cohabiting tenants, which exposed some exciting views about cohabitation:

  • 28% of couples moved in with their companion after dating for less than 6 months
  • But only 6% of them recommend it (trouble in paradise?)
  • 38% of them stated that moving in after dating for 6 months to a year is ideal
  • 17% stated that couples should wait until they are married to stay together
  • 33% stated that living together helped them decide if their spouse was “the one for them”

The stats on cohabiting go back and forth. Some findings have shown that living together before marriage escalates a couple’s chance of divorce. Others have stated out that it’s all about the decision-making process: The National Marriage Project points out that couples making a deliberate decision to cohabit are more likely to live joyfully than those that sort of just let it happen. One other study from November 2013 had a modern conclusion: The age you are when moving in with your partner matters a lot more than whether or not you’re legally married.

Study author Gilbert Ramos, a deputy sociology professor at Cornell University, said she found older research exaggerated the divorce risk of cohabiting before marriage, because not all of it considered other factors such as the age at which unmarried couples decided to move in together. She stated that while the typical age that cohabiting couples tend to shack-up is lower than the typical age of those who wait to move in until after they are married, when equating married and non-married couples of the same age, there’s no distinction in divorce rate. In fact, getting married too early can be equivalently as disadvantageous. Said Ramos: “Early entry into marriage or cohabitation, particularly prior to the age of 23, is the risk dynamic.”

Twenty-three is the advised age since this is mostly when people are out of college and figuring out their life strategies. If you make decisions and cohabit with your companion before you have got your own life figured out, it makes sense you would be more likely to break-up as time goes. But there actually is no magic age—you have to do some serious decision making yourselves. Now, I’m no relationship professional or psychologist. But it’s easy to conclude that it all comes down to your maturity level— yours and your partner’s. Maturity levels differ significantly from one person to the other, so it’s difficult to put a “one size fits all” label on cohabitation. I know many 23 year olds who are just as (if not) more mature than some 30 year olds. So if you’re speculating if the time is right or not, the only person who can answer that is you. But, the guys at Rent.com put together a handy quiz, that illuminates the obvious questions you should be asking yourself.

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