Cohabitation #1: Partner Choice
While popular wisdom suggests that a period of cohabitation before marriage is a sensible decision to ascertain compatibility, most people are surprised to learn that the practice actually increases the likelihood of divorce by around 50%.
Over the next few issues, we’ll outline a number of reasons why cohabitation is actually counter-productive for a relationship.
Barriers to entry are much lower for a cohabitating relationship than marriage. Couples therefore tend to be less discriminating in their choice of partner reasoning… “it’s not as if we’re getting married”. Habits and character traits that a person prospecting for a marriage partner would not normally tolerate, are more easily accommodated in the ‘temporary relationship’ mindset.
Some qualities that are seen as advantageous in a social partner such as being a ‘hard party goer’ and are attractive in the ‘partnered single life’, are actually liabilities in the married state when family and stability become more important values.
This may explain why domestic violence, alcohol abuse and relationship breakdown is higher among cohabitating couples than in their married contemporaries. Weaker partner choice coupled with lower relationship investment leads many cohabiting people to be less inclined to expend themselves for their partner or compromise on their independent lifestyles. They can justify bad behaviour because their partnership is not valued as a life-long goal and thus they don’t care as much about hurting or disappointing them.