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Living Together Before Marriage

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1. Introduction:
Attention getter-
Your daughter of 26 is fast approaching the average age for marriage in the United States. One day she tells you that she and her boyfriend are thinking about living together, and she wants to know if you think this is a good idea. What do you say? What is the informed response?

About a quarter of women move in with a romantic partner before the age of 20, and more women than ever live with a partner before they get married, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics on usnews.com. Nearly half of women (48 percent) between the ages of 15 and 44 lived with a partner before getting married between the years of 2006 and 2010, an 11 percent jump since 2002 and a 41 percent jump since 1995. Less than a quarter of so-called “first unions”—meaning a first marriage or first cohabitation—were marriages during that span. In 2002, 30 percent of “first unions” were marriages.

Specific Purpose Statement-
After listening to my presentation the class will know the three different benefits and three different issues about couples who move into together before marriage.
2. Benefits & Issues-
Companionships: According to Cathie Robertson, a professor at Grossmont College in El Cajon, California (2013), one of the most common advantages of cohabitating is companionship. Living together allows you to relish the company of your partner after work, when you have free time, in the mornings when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. It also gives you an opportunity to see just how compatible you really are before you get married or make a serious commitment to one another. In a way, you could consider cohabitation a trial period before marriage. In some cases, it is important to live together before getting married because it gives you a chance to experience marriage in its truest form. In other words, you learn each other’s pet peeves, quirks, behaviors and thought processes before vowing to love one another forever. You also learn how to work through problems and issues that occur within the relationship. Financial Stability: Living together also allows you to have financial stability. When you cohabitate with someone, you generally split the bills between the two of you. In other words, you may pay the mortgage or rent payment, the telephone bill, the electricity bill, the cable bill and the Internet bill, while your partner pays for the groceries, gas and/or any other bills that you amass.

Cohabitation is appealing to a lot of couples because it takes a lot of the financial burden off of one person. In addition, when you cohabitate you save gas money because you no longer have to travel daily or weekly to each other’s residences. In fact, approximately 70% of people view cohabitation as the first step towards marriage according to Pew Research Publication Center, 2010. Less Pressure: Another advantage of cohabitating is that it takes the pressure off of the relationship. In other words, you do not have to feel like you have to get married to keep your partner happy and satisfied. You can enjoy each other’s company without entering into a legally binding agreement. There are many reasons why you may prefer to live together without getting married. Some of these reasons are: you haven’t been dating very long, you’re not quite sure you want to get married, you don’t believe in the institution of marriage, you can’t get married due to your sexual orientation and/or you have personal or family issues you need to work out before entertaining the idea of marriage. Regardless of the reason(s), living together can eliminate the pressures that sometimes accompany marriage.

Broken Engagements: When you move in together with the intention of eventually getting married, you risk experiencing a broken engagement. When you first get engaged or you are on the verge of getting engaged, your first instinct may be to move in together as a “trial run.” While this may be good for some couples, for others, it may be the beginning of the end of their relationship. In other words, you may initially be “giddy” with excitement at the thought of living together, spending all of your time together and getting to know one another’s preferences, habits, pet peeves, likes and/or dislikes, etc., but over time you may start to feel smothered, neglected, irritated, etc. Moreover, you may tell yourself that cohabitating will give you a glance of what to expect when you are officially married, but in reality, for some, it may lead to heartbreak and a broken engagement. Once the initial “honeymoon period” is over you may start to notice things about one another that you never noticed before (because you did not live together).

For instance, you may not like the way your partner leaves his/her dirty clothes around the house or your partner may not like the way you always have to have everything your way. Although these may seem like small differences, over time they may add up and cause distress in relationship. Incompatibilities: In some cases, cohabitating can bring out incompatibilities. In other words, things that you once thought were “cute” when you were “just dating” and living separately, may all of a sudden become irritating, frustrating and/or annoying. For instance, while you are dating you may find your partner’s dry humor endearing, but once you have been living with that dry humor for months or years, you may not find it charming anymore, in fact, you may find it downright maddening. In addition, you may be the type that likes to stay in the house and cuddle, while your partner may be the type that likes to go out and have a good time. Although some incompatibilities can be worked through, others are too just overwhelming to overcome, either way moving in together and then having to separate because you are no longer compatible is not only a hassle, but also very painful.

Money Management Problems: According to the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center (2010), you may run into money management problems, if you decide to cohabitate with your partner. In other words, if you are good at managing your money and you have a good credit score, etc., but your partner has poor money management skills, it can lead to a breakup, especially if you are relying on him/her to be responsible for some of the bills. Although you would like to think you would be able to spot that type of problem in your partner before you moved in together, you may actually be surprised. In fact, more than likely your partner will tell you that he/she is good at managing money, but in reality, he/she may be in debt, overspend and/or have a poor credit score. Although this may not seem so important at first, it may prevent you from purchasing a house and/or car or obtaining employment. Money is the root of many breakups, especially when the two people live together and share bills. In other words, your partner’s poor money management skills can have a detrimental effect on your ability to purchase items, especially if everything is in your name. 3. Solution-

One of the many ways couples can prevent the issues between the periods they are living together before they even decided to get married is communicating with each other and trying to work out any issues they may be having. A lot of people might say communicating will never help fix the issue that has been started, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. The living together period is usually just a test between the couples see if they can overcome any issue that people have may have warned them about.

4. Visualization-
Picture this a world where the divorce rate decreased as more couples start to live together before marriage and overcome the issues within the “trial period”, as some may call it, living together before marriage.

5. Action Step-
Living together before marriage may not be the best for every couple out there, but some couples will try to make the best out of the rollercoaster ride they decided to make within their relationship.


National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. (2010). Money, honey if you want to get along with me: Money management and union dissolution in marriage and cohabitation. Retrieved from http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org/for-the-media/news/news- detail/index.aspx?nid=62 Pew Research Center Publications. (2010). the decline of marriage and rise of new families. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and- rise-of-new-families/2/#ii-overview Robertson, C. (2013). Cohabitation and marriage. Retrieved from http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/faculty/hodgson/Courses/so142/CherlinPP/cherlin7e_ppt _ch_07.pdf

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