Bend Marriage Counselor: Cohabitation and Why It Might Not Work

April 20, 2016 by

These days, many couples are choosing to cohabitate – or live together – without getting married. Decades ago, cohabitation without marriage was looked down upon, but it’s becoming more and more common and acceptable.

Why are people choosing to cohabitate before getting married?

There are a number of reasons. Many couples want to “test out” marriage first and believe living together will show if they can handle the daily challenges marriage brings. For others, cohabitation is a logical next step between dating and marriage. And other couples opt for cohabitation because they fear a potential divorce if they get married instead.

While there are many who advocate that cohabitation is equal to marriage, there are also those who discredit it, placing marriage in higher esteem than cohabitation. So why doesn’t cohabitation always work as a replacement for marriage?

Cohabitation relationships are short-term. While there is evidence that more and more cohabitation relationships are lasting longer, they are still not long-term, permanent relationships. When people get married, they take vows to be committed to each other forever. Regardless of whether those vows hold up, the enduring commitment is still there. Cohabitation relationships lack that commitment. And while those who cohabitate might feel they are committed to each other, there isn’t an actual, underlying commitment.

Cohabitation relationships are uncertain. When couples want to get married, they know where they are headed. They have the same ultimate goal. When couples choose to cohabitate, their present goals might be the same, but what about their future goals? How long will a couple cohabitate? What does cohabitation mean for the relationship? Are there plans for marriage? And if so, when will that marriage take place? These questions show that cohabitation relationships don’t necessarily have the same certainty that marriages have.

Cohabitation relationships are not the same as marriage. Some couples believe that cohabitating is a great way to see how being married will work. But while living together can give couples a sense of marriage, cohabitation is not the same as marriage. Yes, couples wake up and fall asleep together and deal with similar challenges, but because they’re not actually married, there’s a lot that cohabitating couples don’t do.

For example, married couples become financially responsible for each other. They pool their resources and provide financial support for one another. Cohabitators often keep their finances separate and don’t have long-term financial plans or goals, which can create challenges down the road.

The same concept also applies to independence. In any relationship, it’s important for couples to have a life outside of their relationship and their partner. But cohabitating couples are more likely to value that independence and separate life over married couples. When this happens, the quality of the relationship might ultimately suffer.

If you want a long-lasting relationship that ends in marriage, does this mean that cohabitation might not be for you? Not necessarily. The important thing is to be honest with your partner and openly communicate about your concerns regarding both cohabitation and marriage – as well as what you ultimately want. Do this and your relationship will be on the right track.

If you and your partner need help discussing your concerns about cohabitation and marriage, reach out to a Bend marriage counselor today.