We come across lots of studies that reveal just what it takes to make a marriage last and what will surely send us running to our lawyers -- as if there's a magical marriage equation and you just throw in a little logic and the right moves and POOF -- you got yourself a divorce-proof union. We all know relationships aren't so black or white, but just for the sake of trying to make sense of this mystical "till death do us part" vow, here's another revelation for you to chew on: a new study says the best predictor of divorce isn't whether you lived with your honey before getting married -- as many originally thought -- but how old you were when you moved your toothbrush next to his. If you were older than 23, congrats! Looks like you will be together forever. If you were a fresh-faced 22-year-old, well, the stats aren't on your side, I'm afraid.

Researchers say age has a huge effect on whether a couple can stay together for the long haul because if we move in with our partners before we're financially independent and/or have a good understanding of our own personal goals, we'll have a much more difficult time negotiating and compromising -- skills that are obviously important in a marriage.

But there are other factors to consider, too. Partners who have been involved in a relationship and take their time before moving in together are more likely to make things work than those who rush into things. Those who rush often do so for financial reasons and not reasons associated with wanting to be together as a pre-step to marriage, according to researchers.

As someone who lived with a boyfriend when I was 23, I see a lot of truth in the results of these studies, but I also spot one major flaw.

I loved my ex as much as I could at that age (I loved myself a whole lot more). But living together was not, for me, a first step toward marriage. Instead, I considered it a wise move to shack up with someone I was spending a great deal of time with anyway and with whom I could share the insane expenses of a insanely expensive New York City apartment.

Despite our commitment to sharing a home, I had no intention at that age of actually sharing anything else -- which ultimately led to our relationship falling apart a few years later. I had every plan of retaining my independence. I came and went as I pleased, gave him last-minute notice if I wouldn't be home for dinner because I had made plans with friends, etc. I hated doing his laundry because I felt old and married having to pair his socks -- and wasn't that the opposite of how you were supposed to feel when you were living together and having a good time?

In my case, though, living with my ex while young helped me realize much sooner that we didn't belong together. It was probably the best learning experience I had at that time and may have prevented us from making the mistake of getting married.

Do you agree that living together at an early age can ruin a relationship and possibly lead to divorce? What are your thoughts on living together prior to marriage?

 

Image via Shelley Panzarella/Flickr