Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Live-In Partners -- Lower Standards, Lower Expectations
In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.
But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not…
When researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken — even unconscious — agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse…
Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia whose views of sexual morality are quite liberal. ("I am not for or against living together," she writes.) Nevertheless, her remarks in this New York Times article are valuable, revealing for a large secular audience just a few of the ways in which the destruction of traditional marriage has hurt men, women and children.
(Thanks to Julie Arant for the alert. And please note that the cartoon above comes from "The Truth Behind Cohabitation" written by David Gilbert for the Catholic Chapter House, a profound article itself that also includes a clever send-up of cohabitation via a Life Church video clip.)