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LIVING TOGETHER AND DIVORCE

A recent study by the Penn State University interviewed 92 couples found, in general, those who lived together before marriage were

• more verbally aggressive,

• more hostile and

• less supportive than those who waited until marriage to live together.

(http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020215/hl_nm/living_1&cid=594)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 70 percent of those who lived together for at least five years did eventually walk down the aisle. But these marriages were also more likely to break up. After 10 years, 40 percent of couples that had lived together before marriage had broken up. That’s a higher percentage of divorce than those who didn’t live together first experienced. (msn.com July 24, 2002)

Wade Horn, a marriage expert at the Department of Health and Human Services explains:

"When living together, the attitude is ’I vow to stay together with you as long as you make me happy.’ In a marriage, people focus on making their partners happy. If you’re used to viewing being together as a test of the other person’s ability to take care of your needs, once you get married it’s hard to just switch that."

Back in 1998, I read an intriguing article by a woman named Mary Roach wrote this in magazine "Health" (quoted in Digest, 12/98 p. 162ff) She wrote:

"I used to balk at the idea of life-long fidelity. But what did I gain for my freedom of living with a man for 13 years? The heart leaping off a cliff and flying through the air. And shortly thereafter, hitting the ground. Heart pulp. Guilt and regret. The knowledge that, by refusing to commit myself to a relationship, I destroyed it.

"Something I failed to grasp is that all marriages are group marriages. I am marrying a man; his delightful, beautiful children; his warm, welcoming parents, his sister, his cousins, their families. A whole clan of hearts and minds that wants me to sign on. What could be more wonderful? Would I belong if we simply lived together? Past experience says, not really. To share a house with someone but not marry sends a message – to him, to our families, to everyone. It says, ’I love this man, but I’m not sure he is it. That’s a message I don’t wish to send anymore.

"Of course, no marriage comes with guarantees. But you have to go into it believing...that this is it, for better and worse, for richer and poorer, liver spots and arthritis. If you do this, the what-ifs of divorce are moot."

(From a sermon by Jeff Strite, "Welcome to the Wedding Feast" 2/23/2009)

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