Cohabitation and its Affect on Marriage

cohabitat.jpgImagine you are offered a credit card with fantastic terms: zero percent interest for the first 12 months and no foreseeable strings attached. You need a line of credit, so you sign up and promptly fall behind on your payments. After the first year, you have a fair amount yet to be paid. The credit card company informs you that your first year interest rate is expiring; the new rate is 23%. That’s higher than a lot of other cards but, if you’re like many people, you simply stay with the card because getting a new one with a lower limit is just too much work. You’ve made the commitment; you’re stuck with it.

This is the analogy being drawn by experts studying what they refer to as the “sliding, not deciding” effect of relationship development. Many young couples are now moving in with each other to sort of “test the waters” before marriage. Many of them find out, however, that their cohabitation becomes something very difficult to get out of — more difficult than they realized — and marriage just sort of happens based on their mutual desire to keep things the way they are. Instead of actually committing to the marriage, these couples simply slide right into it.

Unfortunately, many of these couples do not communicate their full intent prior to cohabitating. As we’ve blogged about in the past, lack of communication is never a good thing. While dating, these couples spend more and more time with each other until they simply get married. What might’ve been a relationship that would’ve otherwise lasted only a few months turns into marriage simply because both parties are too invested in their living situation to try anything else.

Nevertheless, cohabitation has increased by 1500% since 1960, when about 450,000 couples lived together. That number is now more than 7.5 million. It’s unclear how many of those live in Florida–cohabitation between unmarried couples is technically still illegal here (though not many, if any, people are actually charged with this “crime,” and new legislation has been proposed to overturn the law). Though many of these couples view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, these couples tend to be less satisfied with their marriages and more likely to divorce.

As a Ponte Vedra Beach Family Law Attorney, seeing couples going through a divorce is often a difficult process. Making the decision to get married in the first place is an important one and should not be a decision made simply out of convenience. Nevertheless, if you are going through a divorce, contact a Ponte Vedra Beach Family Law Attorney to discuss your options. It’s important to surround yourself by a good support circle, and a qualified Ponte Vedra Beach Family Law Attorney can help you get through the process.

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