Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Trial" Marriages

I was thinking about the Divorce Rates of Americans recently and asking myself  "WHY do 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce"? I realize this is a random thing to think about as a newlywed, but I want to make sure that I don't do whatever 50% of Americans are doing that causes their marriage to end in divorce....Then I started thinking about "Trial Marriages" -when a couple lives together before marriage. This has certainly become a growing trend in my generation. So many people justify them as a good way to see if they can "handle" living together, and if they really are compatible together. Some people just want to spend more time together, or to save money, and I'm sure a lot of people just enjoy being able to share their bed with someone every night! However, I recently heard on a radio program that couples who cohabitate before marriage actually have a higher divorce rate than couples who do not. 

I have to admit, I lived with my husband before we were married. Our main justification was financial. His Financial Aid adviser told us that if we did get married before/while he was in medical school, he would no longer qualify for the majority of the scholarships he was awarded because they were based on income. If we were married, my income would be counted as his income, where as if we stayed single, his income = $0, which qualified him for more scholarships. I should say that we were already in a "committed" relationship with every intention of getting married from the very beginning. And, thankfully we did... a week after he graduated!

While we were cohabitating, one thing that was in the back of my mind when things got "tough" was that "I don't have to put up with this... I can leave at any time... You're not my husband....It's my choice to stay or not". I think that most people who live together before marriage carry that same mentality with them into their marriage. This is certainly a dangerous attitude to have in a marriage. While breaking-up is always an option before marriage, Divorce should never be something that pops into your head when the going gets tough. 

I have several friends who are currently living with their fiances, and when they get into fights, their insecurities and doubts about their relationship always come to the surface, (this happened to me as well). After years of feeling this way after a fight, it seems only natural that your mind would be trained to have this reaction to future fights, even after you're married.

The average age of marriage has increased from 21 to 28 since the 1960's (Washington Post). As the age at which couples tend to marry continues to get higher, it seems un-likely that we are going to be able to persuade millions of future couples not to cohabitate before marriage. And with so many couples claiming that "nothing really changed" after going from cohabitation to marriage, how do we help people realize that EVERYTHING changes!!! The most important thing being: your mind & heart's way of dealing with the "tough times" and not letting yourself go there... to the D-word.....

I don't think that couples who live together before they are married are definitely going to get a divorce. For my sake, I pray that's not what it means at all.... However, I do think it's important that couples who live together before they get married realize all of the changes that are going to take place. When the ladies in my life ask me "Did your relationship change once you got married?", I shout it from the rooftops! YES!! So many things have changed, and all for the better I think. I no longer carry around the guilt of "living in sin". I know that as I strive to be a good wife, I am doing exactly what I was created to do.

The relationship between a husband and wife should be so much more than a relationship between a boyfriend/girlfriend. There's more responsibility and accountability involved. There's a greater sense of pride. A better understanding of unconditional love. A desire to be a better person for the sake of your spouse. The need to be selfless; To consider another's needs, wishes, desires before your own. One must switch their mentality from: "I don't have to take this" to "I need to do whatever it takes to make this work"!! 

Do I regret living with my husband before we were married? I'd have to say "no" because if I had not moved from Austin to Baltimore with him, our relationship would probably not have survived during his 4 years in Medical School. I do however, wish that circumstances could have been different so that we could have started our marriage earlier. I hate that I had so much Catholic "guilt" about being with my husband before we were married. I feel like the bad habits developed before marriage have a tendency to carry over after marriage. But, unless couples start marrying during their early college years again, it's likely that, in the future, they will need to learn how to take the good with the bad while transitioning from cohabitation to marriage.

What are your thoughts? Did you live with your husband before marriage? Do you regret it? Do you think it made your marriage better?


  1. I don't think this is something that you should worry about on a personal level. You are like 1 million percent less likely to get a divorce than anyone I know, based on what I know of you two and how committed you are, and your ideas about marriage.

  2. Also, I am not sorry about either time I co-habitated. The first time, I realized he was NOT someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The second time, he was, so we got married, but I have no qualms about having had a trial run to make sure.

    I think in the past, when divorce was more taboo, there were probably more silently unhappy marriages. It's perhaps one of those things where individual freedoms have come with a cost to society- that is, people are now free to leave an unhappy marriage, which is a good thing on an individual level, but makes society less cohesive. The sexual revolution goes hand in hand with that.

  3. I feel like giving up when the going gets tough has a lot to do with our society's need for instant gratification. If they're not happy now, they move on to something "bigger & better" without ever really dealing with their problems.