The New York Times published a scare-mongering piece on “cohabitation” today in which a psychologist posits that living together before marriage can cause unfavorable outcomes down the road. Do you buy it?
In the article, clinical psychologist Meg Jay goes over some stats about cohabitation and divorce, saying that couples who live together before getting married are more likely to get divorced down the road. She also says that this statistic can’t be accounted for solely by the fact that those with a more traditional view of marriage are more likely to “stick it out” in unhappy marriages after the fact.
So what’s the culprit? There’s a bit of the old “battle of the sexes” nonsense in which women just want to get married and men just want to get the milk for free, of course. Then again, if that’s the case, can’t the man get the “milk” without moving in with the, um, cow? (Ew.)
Then there’s something that makes more sense to me: the idea that once you’ve moved in together (just for the fuck of it, because it makes financial sense, etc.), it contributes to the likelihood that you’ll plod forward with a marriage to this person without really thinking about it, just because your lives are already so intertwined and because you feel like it’s the next logical step. This makes sense, but I also think it’s entirely possible to do things because they’re the next logical step without having cohabitation in the equation. My parents got married out of law school (without living together first!) because they thought it was what they were supposed to do next, and they did not live happily ever after.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using cohabitation as a test to see if you like living together, as the qualities that make someone a good roommate are not necessarily the same ones that make someone a good boyfriend, and it can be hard to find them in the same person. Assuming you don’t want to have kids, might it be possible to date one person and live with another? And even if you do find all those qualities in one person, what if that person is hideous? Take, for example, this terrifying face morph I just made of my roommate and my boyfriend:
I think the key here, as with most things, is not to do it in a stupid way, i.e. you should put some thought and discussion into moving in together before doing it. Like you should with every step of the relationship! But perhaps I am wrong, and cohabitation is going to kill my relationship with my boyfriend no matter how much we talk about it first. What do you think?