What is it with Men and Commitment? - Scott Stanley

The problem with cohabitation is one of inertia - of sliding. Living together,
mingling finances and intertwining your lives makes it
harder to break up than if you'd stayed at separate addresses. Some
people get trapped by that and they end up hanging around. Even if a
couple doesn't eventually marry, they might prolong the relationship
and miss other opportunities with a person who's a better fit. And then
there's the research that shows that men who cohabitat before marriage
are, on average, less dedicated to their relationships than those who don't.
Commitment is fundamentally about making a decision . . . making the
choice to give up other choices. It feels less like a commitment if it's not a clear
decision, if it's something you just slid into.
Scott Stanley, PhD


From the National Marriage Project:
Should We Live Together?: What Young Adults Need To Know

About Cohabitation Before Marriage
Popenoe & Whitehead, National Marriage Project

Ten Important Research Findings on Marriage and Choosing a Marriage Partner

The National Marriage Project, Nov 2004

The Marrying Kind: Which Men Marry & Why

Why Men Won't Commit- Exploring Young Men's Attitudes About Sex, Dating and Marriage

Who Wants to Marry A Soul Mate?

Sex Without Strings Relationships Without Rings

Optimal age to marry:
We are currently recommending marriage, for most people and other things being equal,
in the mid-twenties. The research suggests that the drop in the high divorce risk of teen
marriage levels off in the early twenties; that is, one does not decrease the risk of divorce or
improve the odds of success any further by waiting until the late twenties or thirties to marry.
Other research suggests that those who marry latter (after the late twenties) aren't quite as happy. -
Popenoe and Whitehead, 10/06


To cohabit, or not to cohabit?
Q: My boyfriend wants to move in. He says it makes no sense to pay
rent on two places when he's here all the time anyway. He also says
we need to see if we can live together before we get married, and I
can see his point. My mother just told me she read about a study that
says couples who live together before marriage actually have a higher
divorce rate. I'm sure I love him but that's the only thing I'm sure
about at this point. Please help!

A: This is a tough one. Your boyfriend is right about one thing — you would save money
living together and combining expenses. In the short run. (Divorce is expensive!) You can
also save money by getting same sex roommates and waiting until you marry to move in
with him. But his main argument is given the current 50 percent divorce rate it makes
sense to try things out in advance. But studies have found that cohabitation isn't enough
like marriage to be a good test. You are testing living together – being roommates – not being "all in".
Contrary to what seems logical, cohabitation (living together) does NOT improve your
odds of marital success. In fact couples that cohabit are more likely to divorce than
couples that wait to live together until after the wedding.

Cohabitation can set up a destructive way of thinking – a "try it out" mentality – that
can continue after marriage. "If this isn't working, we should bail out. We should have lived together
and tried this out for four years, not three!"

It can also set up a situation where you've lived together and just kind
of slide into getting married. Some men say it feels easier to get married (give
her and her mom the big wedding) than to break up! Even when it doesn't feel quite right.

Research has also identified what is different about couples that make it to
happily-ever-after, and the good news is it's simple behaviors that anyone
can learn, but not by living together. You learn them best in a class. So, whether you
decide to live together or not, be sure the two of you
study up on the new information that can actually improve your odds. If you are
going to live together at least take a few marriage education classes while you do so.

Research also shows that couples who are formally engaged, who have set the date,
and reserved the hall before they move in together have better odds. Moving in with your
"fiancé" is different than moving in with your "boyfriend"- both for the two of
you and for your friends and family. - Dr Romance


Premarital Tool - free discussion guide

How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk keynote and
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Great marriages begin long before the wedding. Learn what parents should teach
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Living Together: Myths, Risks, and Answers, the
comprehensive cohabitation book by Mike and Harriet McManus.
Order at: http://www.smartmarriages.com/app/Media.Booklist

From the McManus book:
Myths: Two-thirds of couples cohabit before they marry. Many are children of
divorce or unwed parents and fear marriage. Many say they do so to save
money - a myth. They could save the same amount living with same gender
friends. They believe they can test the relationship in a "trial marriage."
What four out of five will experience is really a "trial divorce." The only
question is whether they will break up before the wedding or afterwards.

Risks: Nearly half will break up short of marriage, undergoing premarital
divorce which can be as painful as the real thing. And those who cohabited
before marriage are 50 percent more likely to divorce than those who live
separately. As one marriage expert puts it, "You can't practice permanence."

MEN AND WOMEN COHABIT FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. Women see it as a step toward
marriage. Men, as available sex, companionship and sharing costs - without
commitment. When men don't pop the question, women get depressed, and are
three times as likely to be depressed as married women. They are also three
times more likely to be physically abused. Cohabiting men are four times as
likely as husbands to be unfaithful, and cohabiting women are eight times
more likely to cheat as married women. Another risk is they'll have
children - 41 percent of cohabiting couples have a child compared to
45 percent of married couples.