Living Together Before Marriage

More than half the couples that I see in therapy are living together without being married. Often they describe it as a step toward getting married.  There are other reasons that couples choose to live together such as convenience, share expenses, fear of divorce or do not believe in marriage.

Studies show that couples who live together have a greater chance of becoming divorced during the first five years of marriage. If they live together in the place of marriage, there is an even greater chance that they will breakup within the five year mark.

The reason for this are many, but in general, it seems that living together, often keeps the relationship in the status of “testing it out”. In place of commitment there is the ability to simply walk away when things become difficult.

As a therapist and a clinician, I am not opposed to couple’s living together. However I do recommend that they discuss what each of their definitions are of the status of their relationship. Does one of you feel that you are on the way to engagement and marriage while the other is simply living together? A healthy discussion about where you would like to see the relationship in 6 months time or 1 year will help each of you to understand the other’s expectations.

Jeannette York, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Burbank, California