OK, married people, go ahead and roll your eyes. An Australian study found that it takes a lot more than just love to keep a marriage together. Still, the study came up with a few interesting tidbits, such as:
Children also influence the longevity of a marriage or relationship, with one-fifth of couples who have kids before marriage — either from a previous relationship or in the same relationship — having separated compared to just nine percent of couples without children born before marriage.
That’s a big difference, and I’m tempted to go read more to see if they have a theory that explains it, even though I’m not fluent in Social Scientese (what on earth are “time-varying covariates” anyway?). Anyone wants to indulge my inner lazy person and tackle this for me?
Andrea adds: Then there’s this, showing once again (there’s a consensus on this in the science already) that couples who live together before marriage fare worse in marriage. Thought this was interesting:
Cohabiting to test a relationship turns out to be associated with the most problems in relationships,” Rhoades says. “Perhaps if a person is feeling a need to test the relationship, he or she already knows some important information about how a relationship may go over time.”
Don’t know if that helps, Brigitte.
Brigitte thinks: That was more or less my guess about co-habitating, but I’m still puzzled a bit about the kids part. I understand that bringing kids from a previous relationship into a new one creates its own set of challenges, but I didn’t think couples who have kids together before getting married would get similar separation rates. I rather thought having kids together was kind of a step up from “testing”, no? And it still doesn’t work? That’s one important piece of paper, marriage is…
Tanya hates to play Devil’s advocate: however, nearly everyone I know who does not live together before marriage does so because either culturally or religiously, it’s a standard they had set for their lives. These same cultures/religions also have in common an understanding of enduring through difficulties in marriage. So I wouldn’t say that cohabitation is the primary earmark for a higher likelihood of divorce. I’d venture to suggest that most of those who live together only once married have been given lifelong examples by family/culture/religious community of how to make marriage work. These individuals are basically far better equipped to face marriage.
Andrea doesn’t want to nitpick: but does your point Tanya actually detract from the evidence, or merely help explain what we know to be true? Sure, cohabiting couples do so precisely because they don’t have the same cultural/religious standards as those who don’t live together before marriage. That doesn’t change the fact that in most cases, couples live together with an eye to seeing if they could get married, considering it an important step on that road. Would they do so if they knew it decreased their chances of marital success?
Tanya responds: See, that’s the thing. It’s not necessarily the cohabitation that decreases their chances of success in subsequent marriage. I think the cohabitation is a symptom, not a cause, of a generation that increasingly places less value upon marital vows.
There’s this cute song by The Proclaimers that goes: “But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to fall down at your door.” But, really, no one ever walks a thousand miles to fall down at his lover’s door. They’re just words used to express how one feels at that moment. And it’s how so many our day view wedding vows. “For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…until death parts us.” Great lyrics are a dime a dozen.
Simply NOT living with someone before entering into a marriage you are otherwise as unprepared for as the next guy will ensure nothing (I dare suggest).by