A Poor Substitute for Marriage: The Downside of Cohabiting 09/10/2013


by psychologist Meg Jay
The New York Times, in a piece entitled "The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage," psychologist Meg Jay of the University of Virginia describes what is known as the "cohabitation effect": "Couples who cohabit before marriage . . . tend to be less satisfied with their marriages-and more likely to divorce-than couples who do not."

Most Americans see cohabitation as a "step towards marriage," despite ample evidence that cohabitation is a poor substitute, and even worse preparation, for marriage.

One of Jay's clients told her that she "felt like [she] was on this multiyear, never-ending audition to be his wife." They got married once they hit their thirties, not because of a newfound commitment on his part but because at that point "We had all this furniture. We had our dogs and all the same friends." Breaking up seemed more difficult than getting married.

If there's a young person in your life considering cohabitation, point him or her to Jay's article. As Jay writes, she's all "for young adults knowing that . . . moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake."


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