A study of men and women from ages 15 to 44 found that couples that shack up before heading to the altar are less likely to have a lasting marriage, NYTimes.com reported.
According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, couples that lived together before getting married decreased the chances of their marriages lasting for 10 or more years by six percent. Couples who got engaged before moving in together fared better, however.
The study indicates a cultural shift: young couples today believe that getting married without living together first is ridiculous. The study also found that women who did not live with both of their biological parents at age 14 were less likely to get married at all and more likely to cohabit than women who had both parents in the home.Ã‚Â
If you have already moved in together, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t start packing your bags just yet.
There are a few things to remember. The first is that the institution of marriage on a whole is in a sad state anyway. According to the NYTimes.com article, one in five marriages will fail after five years and one in three will end in less than 10 years.
Black men and women have a 50 percent chance that their marriages will last for 10 years or more. The second thing is, the success of marriage is based on each individual coupleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability and desire to grow together. Nobody who has been happily married for over 40 years will tell you that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy. It takes hard work.
Perhaps the problem is that men and women who have lived with each other before marriage feel as if they know all there is to know about their partners and fall into a false sense of security. The key is to remember that nothing is guaranteed.
Moving in with him doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get a diamond ring. Marrying him doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t equal your golden anniversary. That may sound grim, but it shifts the emphasis back to working together for a common goal. When you achieve that, whether you share the same mailing address or not, you can make it to silver, gold and beyond.
Is there a psychological reason behind this? Is this situation true for Malawians too? According to psychologist Sandra Mapemba, when a couple cohabits, the excitement fazes off and getting married is not a big deal.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Changes in peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s expectations also come into play. When a couple that was cohabiting gets married, one half of the pair might expect something different which their partner is not willing or ready to live up to. Because of this, tension builds up in the union,Ã¢â‚¬Â explains Mapemba.
Marriage and relationship columnist Yamikani Mtonga points out that cohabitation is a relationship involving two single adults living together, sharing household responsibilities and having a sexual relationship. Though usually mistaken for it, cohabitation is not marriage as recognised by law and society.
She says marriage, on the other hand, is a covenant relationship between man, woman and God.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Because God instituted marriage, He ought to be at the centre of it. Even if a married couple faces challenges, their union will remain solid if they put God first.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Couples that cohabit before marriage are more likely to divorce because they think they can handle the union without GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s guidance,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Mtonga, adding that cohabitation is experimental in nature as the two people are not sure whether their relationship will work out.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They also enjoy the benefits of marriage without its commitments as the two feel they are not married. Without commitment, any relationship will freeze. Whatever the reason for cohabitation may be; it is immoral and sinful.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is a poor imitation of marriage. It strips marriage of its dignity and honour. I would advise young couples to laying the foundation of their relationship in God,Ã¢â‚¬Â concludes Mtonga.