The conventional wisdom in favor of living-in before marriage is that it allows the couple to get to know each other, make a better marital choice, and lay a more solid conjugal foundation than men and women who marry cold turkey.
Could this thinking be wrong?
No. End of chapter.
(This chapter is about “Stupid Cohabitation”, which she calls “the ultimate female self-delusion.”)
A US survey of 13,000 adults found that couples who lived together before marriage were one-third more likely to separate or divorce within a decade. A Canadian national survey of 5,300 women found that those who cohabitated were 54 percent more likely to divorce within 15 years. And a Swedish study of 4,300 women found cohabitation linked with an 80 percent greater risk of divorce.
Here’s the thing though: in 1994, cohabitation before marriage was a fairly new practice in those countries: between 1964 and 2014, the rate rose 900 percent to a figure of about 7-in-ten women. Which means, like all new practices, it skews toward young people. And the younger you are when you get married, the more likely you are to divorce. Studies that take this into account show that age is a stronger predictor than cohabitation:
The research shows that at 23—the age when many people graduate from college, settle into adult life and begin becoming financially independent—the correlation with divorce dramatically drops off.
Kuperberg found that individuals who committed to cohabitation or marriage at the age of 18 saw a 60 percent rate of divorce. Whereas individuals who waited until 23 to commit saw a divorce rate that hovered more around 30 percent.
That said, she can’t have known that at the time:
These trends are troubling to some because nearly a dozen studies from the 1970s into the early 2000s showed that men and women who lived together before marriage were far more likely to divorce than couples who moved directly from dating to marriage. In fact, on average, researchers found that couples who cohabited before marriage had a 33 percent higher chance of divorcing than couples who moved in together after the wedding ceremony.
So you can’t blame her for believing the figures. What you can blame her for is jumping right from correlation to causation, to assuming that cohabitation causes divorce and then looking for reasons to support her claims.
Why [do you keep cohabitating despite the statistics]? Desperation. Fear of not having somebody — of not having a life if a man doesn’t want you.
In our dialogues you always come to admit it. How about saving yourself the stress of finding out the hard way?
[Choosing someone] should be out of a desire to share [your]self, [your] life’s experience. And that’s why, in the long run, I don’t think personal maturity is benefited by these living-in arrangements
Clearly the fact that some people choose to cohabitate out of fear (????) means that nobody can ever do it. This is why we can’t have nice things: desperation. She asserts that all women move in with men because they’re hoping to get married but don’t trust the man to make that happen unless they move in. Which is… honestly a really weird reason to move in together? Who does that? Without a transcript, it’s hard to see the real picture here.
I will point out that this case study is nineteen and came from a bad home life. Of course she’s not ready to get married yet! She’s, what, a year out of a bad situation? I don’t think many adults a year out of a bad marriage are ready to get married again, and that’s not counting her age. Plus, cohabitating can be a boon toward getting out of a bad situation and staying out, since you split expenses.
Listen, the phrase is “happily ever after”. All of us girls grew up with that promise. So when you’re an unhappy young girl, what better remedy than living-in with a man?
I literally can’t even follow this logic. It’s such a reductive, condescending way to judge people’s life choices.
Then she says cohabitation comes often from a place of denial, quoting one caller:
“I feel he does love me, but he holds back” is her explanation for the live-in boyfriend’s desire to sex-sap with other couples.
I’m pretty sure he’s just into swinging, but okay? I hope he found someone who likes to swing to spend his days with instead. I hope she found someone who doesn’t to spend time with, too. I hope these callers ended up happy despite the judgemental, bigoted advice they got.
Moving in with a man when you don’t know how he feels is to try and make him feel something toward you. THat’s demeaning and stupid. It is about you auditioning.
She uses as evidence of this a caller whose boyfriend keeps saying he doesn’t feel ready to get married. And you know what? young people who have only been together a year might not be ready to get married! That’s okay!
Dr Laura’s advice? If he’s content to live together and she’s not content, she should move out so that he’s discontent and therefore will make changes such as marrying her. She suggests that he offered to go to therapy with her, and Dr Laura’s reply was cold and dismissive:
Dr Laura: That’s nice too. But right now I’m not interested in him. I’m concerned about you. Diana, leave. eave because living with him is making you feel bad about yourself. That’s why you shouldn’t be there. It is damaging to you.
Note that Diana didn’t say she was unhappy with the living arrangements — she just wants to get married, and he isn’t ready yet.
(Toxic monogamy is this: you want something and your partner can’t provide it yet so you throw out the baby with the bathwater and leave him forever, endlessly searching for the one person who will fit all your desires perfectly, until you get lucky or decide to settle for less).
Later she literally equates living together with prostitution:
Women have to know of their alternatives to selling themselves. And they have to be able to use their courage and creativity in ways that make them choosers, not beggars.
I feel like the alternative to “selling themselves” is a lesbian duplex, but okay.
I pointed out to Yolanda that when you move in with a man without a commitment, he already knows one crucial thing: He doesn’t have to do much to get you. Then he fools around, and you stay, and he learns something more:: He doesn’t have to do much to keep you either.
In other words: it’s her fault he cheated, because she was “easy”.
“Commitments don’t stop people from being abusive, unloving, unfaithful, or just plain annoying. Commitments don’t even stop people from dumping each other. So– big deal.”
Well, the statistics prove that commitment is a big deal
But they don’t — they don’t say what she thinks they say, and the fact that she interpreted them as cut-and-dried proof is on her even if the real cause wasn’t widely publicised yet.
Having sex-too-son, moving in without commitment or life plans in concert, are the behaviors of basically immature, let-me-feel-good-right-now-because-I-want-it-therefore-it-is kind of people.
What’s wrong with feeling good right now? Does every relationship have to be forever? Is there point to dating without marriage as a goal? I clearly feel there is. Dr Laura doesn’t even bother touching on these items; she just writes them all off as immature and moves on.
Susan called me to discuss her boyfriend’s immature and manipulative behavior, which she was determined to change!
Dr Laura: You live with him?
Dr Laura: You got sexual too soon. You moved in too soon.
Dr Laura sees what she wants to see.
Grown-ups should know that they don’t get the goodies legitimately unless they have earned them.
We’re done here. I’m pulling the plug on this chapter if all she has to offer are ad-hominems and assumptions.