In the world of relationships, things are never simple. Unlike in math, there is no textbook on relationships, and when problems arise, one can’t flip to the back of the book to get the correct solution.
It used to be boy meets girl, girl likes boy, and here comes the bride. Although the idea of being a bride still lingers in the minds of some women in this generation, it is the pattern of dating that has changed.
Nowadays, boy meets girl, girl likes boy, but before the couple has a chance to walk down the isle, the couple moves in together. Cohabitation would seem like a perfect step before marriage, right?
It is no doubt that many view cohabitation as a stepping-stone to a successful marriage. Ideally, it makes perfect sense. But we often find that reality does not always coincide with our ideals so neatly.
One of the attractive characteristics that is ascribed to cohabitation is that it serves as a screening device for a successful marriage. It would be nice to see if the two could peacefully enjoy each other’s presence for more than just a couple days, weeks or months.
And what about those hidden habits that only surface when you live with one another, because now the privacy you once had is shared with your partner. All those products in the medicine cabinets you were able to hide are suddenly exposed, and the countless days of dancing naked with a green mask on your face are no longer liberating but a bit embarrassing.
Although cohabitation might bring those things to light, it fails to successfully screen for a fruitful marriage, because the level of commitment is not the same as one in marriage.
Couples who live together lack the stronger will to resolve problematic issues. In the realistic realm of relationships, there are countless arguments and disagreements, and there are times we do not feel like compromising our individuality. When problems do arise, couples who are cohabitating are not as committed to making adjustments that are needed to resolve them, and are more likely to call it quits.
The higher motivation of married couples to work things out finds its leverage in the value of commitment expressed in their marriage. While there is a different level of commitment between married couples and ones who are living together, there are also gender-related differences within cohabitating couples as well.
Men tend to express less commitment in cohabitation. While women view it as leading to marriage, men simply don’t, or are aware of their partner’s intention, but are scared of it.
In fact, men are more likely to live with several partners before marrying a partner with whom they have not previously lived with. While the couple might act married, the women tend to do more work within the household.
Although wedding bells might ring, the chances of that couple living happily ever after are contrary to those in fairy tales.
According to the 2000 Census, there are 9.7 million cohabitating couples in the U.S. This number has increased tenfold since the 1960s, along with the divorce rate. These findings are partly due to the assumption that cohabitation mirrors marriage, and to the misconception that living together provides the security of training wheels.
Tatiana Galadjev is a junior communications major, who has also taken a variety of sociology courses.