Living Together Before Marriage Doesn’t Spell Divorce Under One Condition

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

breakups, commitment, divorce, in the news, living together, marriage


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Freela Freela

I guess I'm the exception to the rule, then.  I moved in with dh when I was 18.  We got married when I was 20.  We're still happily married 16 years later.  For me, moving in together absolutely was the start of our lives as a committed couple, not a matter of convenience or anything like that.  I wouldn't recommend geting engaged and moving in together at 18, but it seems we did something right if we're still happy and in love 18 years after we leased that first little apartment!

nonmember avatar Allison

We jumped into things, partly because of our circumstances. He was 20 and I was 19 when we started dating (2 months online, then he moved to be with me). We were engaged after 4 months, then moved in together after 6 months. Almost 3 years later, we now have a beautiful girl and I'm a SAHM. I wouldn't say for everyone to jump in so quickly, but I learned more about little habits and we learned to compromise and work as a couple more.

ashjo85 ashjo85

These studies are stupid. If you're mature about things and trust in your head as well as your heart (plus some luck) nothing else is going to matter. I moved in with my husband when I was 20. He was 25. We've been together 11 years.

TheMi... TheMillerFamily

Ive been with my boyfriend for 10 years. We moved in together only 3 months after meeting, I was 20 he was 22. We have a 7 year old son and a 3 almost 4 year old daughter. We went through alot in the beginning and despite everyone (literally everyone) telling us we would never make it, here we are 10 years later, doing better then ever. Were looking for a home to buy and yes we know we want to get married but we want to to it our way which means a cruise to somewhere and a very very simple wedding on the beach with our kids (and of course any family who can save up there own money to join us!)

We listen to eachother, and love eachother fully. My "husband" is my soulmate and I still after 10 years think he is absolutely amazing and totally Sexy! We tend to our relationship as our relationship is the rock of our family. Without a good relationship you can't have a good family life!

weve also been together longer then all the people we know who have gotten married and we aren't even married yet!

nonmember avatar KELLY0292

These "studies" are bologna! My fiance and I have been together 4 years now, married for 2. I was 19 & he was 21 when we moved in together and had been dating long distance for 6 months. I have a very happy, loving relationship. I think it depends on the maturity of the couple and being fully committed to making the relationship work. Obviously if two people just don't work well together and are at different points in their life then the relationship is just not going to work. Age is just a number!!

nonmember avatar Sara

As a 20 year old living with my 21 year old fiance I feel I should put in my feelings. What we are doing isn't for everyone. We've been together for 5 years (broke up and dated other people in high school but never really lost touch with each other for long) I've known since the first date I'd marry him. And we have one rule. The D word doesn't exist. As far as we are both concerned we are married already. We provide for each other, we compromise when needed, and we love wholeheartedly. It isn't age that makes a relationship work.. it's the effort put in and the mindset of both people.

nonmember avatar Nicolette

No I don't agree!! My soon to be hubby and I are almost 23 and 24. We have been together for 4 years and have lived together for 3 in a half of those 4 so do that the math. We have shared 2 apts and now a house together . Like you said it's all about compromising and working together. Age has NOTHING to do with if your marriage will last or not. It's about how hard you work with each other and love each other and want to be with each other to get over all the fights you will have.

nonmember avatar Beth

I don't think age has anything to do with whether you'll stay together or not! It's about how compatible you are as a couple! I met my husband last May, we moved in together 2 days later BC we fell in love at first sight. We were engaged 2 weeks later and married in November. Now I am almost 5 months pregnant with our first child and we are happy as hell and will be forever!! My best friends have been together for 13 years, they lived together pretty much the entire time and we are only 27. They are engaged and getting married in 2015 and they've been dating since high school but are meant to be together and will be together forever! My parents who have been married for 30 years were engaged 3 days after they met and didn't see each other for the first year of their engagement BC my father worked in another country and my mother chose to finish her education and they're happy! They were in their 30's. It has nothing to do with age or whether or not you live together. It's all about how compatible you are, how much you're willing to invest into your relationship and being best friends as well as lovers!

nonmember avatar Hanna

I disagree. Me and my hubby moved in together 6 months after i turned 17 and 1 month before he turned 30. Yes i know there is a huge age gap. We were only together for 7 months before we moved in together and we've been going strong for 7 amazing years!!! Would trade my life for anything

Reh2002 Reh2002

The previous studies have since been corrected by further reasearch: When you correct for how long two people have been living together, the divorce rates are the same.

That is to say, a couple that has been living together for 5 years (and got married at year 2) is the same as a married couple that has been living together for 5 years, not a married couple that has been living together for 2. 

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