Does Living Together Before Marriage Increase Divorce Chances?

Bride and groom holding hands

How does pre-marital cohabitation affect your union's chance of success?

Many women know the feeling—that feeling of drifting off into a daydream wonderland of engagement rings, wedding dresses, honeymooning and the oh-so-mystical idea of happily ever after.

It's a feeling that can bring on the warm fuzzies faster than a tanning bed but can also spark the overwhelming urge to vomit from sheer terror.

However, with the number of couples living together before marriage hovering a few percentage points below 50, some women may be opting for a trial period before heading into the unknown territory of lifelong commitment.

David Jamison, licensed marriage and family therapist of the Rochester Marriage and Family Wellness Center Inc., said about half his clients are couples who are unmarried and living together or who at some point cohabited before marriage. Jamison said these couples usually live together to see if they're compatible for marriage. ThirdAge: What It Takes To Keep Your Marriage Healthy

"That's a misnomer, though," Jamison said. "There's a higher percentage of divorce among couples that have lived together before marriage."

Elizabeth Newman, 23, disagrees that divorce would be more likely among couples who cohabitate pre-maritally.

"It seems a little ridiculous to say someone got a divorce because they lived together first," Newman said. "Why would you not live with somebody before you marry them? You don't know anything about a person until you live with them." ThirdAge: Can Marriage Help You Live Longer?

Newman lives in Kasson with her boyfriend, Spencer Klemm, of a year and a half. Although she admits some people may think she and her other half jumped the gun by moving in together after only five months of dating, she said it seemed like the natural course of action since she spent so many nights sleeping over at his house.

The only difference between cohabitation and marriage for Newman is that her last name will change.

"People seem to think there's going to be a huge change when they get married," she said. "It's kind of just a label to me. What would change but my last name? Nothing." ThirdAge: Five Ways To Fight Fair In Marriage

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