Does cohabitation prior to marriage affect divorce statistics?
23rd March 2012
There is an article in today’s Daily Mail containing research on whether divorce statistics are affected by whether people live together first or not. In the 60’s people who lived together before they married had a much higher chance of divorce than
they do today. The study’s author says this is because co-habiting today is much more common and therefore doesn’t affect the success of subsequent marriage.
The article also details how cohabitation with and without engagement affects the divorce rates, however it would be really interesting to hear about how rates are affected by the different lengths of time people live together prior to marriage.
There are several people who have come to Divorce Support Group whose wives or husbands have left within 2 years of getting married after they have cohabited for anything between 5 and 10 years before the marriage. I think there is a correlation between the length of cohabitation and the statistics associated with divorce. My view is that when people live together for a long time, they usually do so because one, if not both of them find the institution of marriage an intimacy too far.
That is, although cohabitation is absolute commitment and meaningful, there is something about marriage which is a little more intimate and dependent and therefore potentially more claustrophobic than living together. It is harder to extricate yourself. Many people cohabit successfully for their lifetimes, but there is a question mark over why people then marry after such a long time of living together. Living together for these couples somehow seems safer and less threatening to the relationship. Taking the next step and marrying after a decade often is one step too far.