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Why Marriage Trumps Cohabitation

Hands Down, Marriage Trumps Living Together


I wish I could go back in time, more than 40 years ago when my husband and I were dating. I’d just come out of a nightmare marriage a few years before, vowing to never marry again. Terrified of the consequences of commitment, my response to my husband’s sweet proposal surprised him.


“I will live with you a year to see….” I told him.  I didn’t know the statistics on cohabitation, and I let fear guide my decisions and override my church upbringing. My fear of marriage was greater than worries about the sin of living together. What I know now would have made a difference, had I known it then.  The truth is that a solid commitment comes with sincerely spoken vows.  


Those vows not only protect us legally but also offer a rock-hard reason to go the extra mile when things get rough.  Looking back, it is a miracle our relationship survived.


It’s hard to admit that I contributed to a sad set of statistics in which the number of couples living together has increased from 12% a decade ago to 15% in 2018.


The number who marry in that age range has decreased from 59% in 1978 to 30% today. But, what I thought was a safe move, actually put our relationship in jeopardy.


Here are FIVE good reasons to choose marriage over cohabitation. They are based on research by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and The Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University and sound advice from author and financial advisor, Tim Parker.




1. Satisfaction

Married adults are more likely than cohabiting individuals to report being highly satisfied in their relationship.


2. Commitment

Married individuals are more likely to report higher levels of commitment in their relationship than cohabiting individuals.


3. Stability

Married individuals are more likely to report higher levels of stability in their relationship than cohabiting individuals.


4. Finances

From the benefits that come with sharing expenses, to jointly filing taxes and access to better health insurance and cheaper car insurance, the financial benefits of marriage are many.


5. Legal Protection

Courts recognize the rights of each individual should the marriage fail. That protection does not exist when couples live together.


Choose Marriage

For me and my husband, Dan, that first year of living together was filled with challenges, most of them based on uncertain commitment and the fact that we did not know the Love Language of our partner.


If we could do it over, I would choose marriage and insist on pre-marriage classes. We would have spent long nights talking about how each of us saw a future together, noting our differences and mapping out a plan together, one that included walking down that aisle before moving in together.


We are lucky that we found the path to happiness together, stumbling over rocks and roadblocks along the way.


I’ve learned that we do ourselves a disservice when we give away our best years without vows attached. Over the years, women have gained larger voices in important segments of society.


Maybe marriage is the next new frontier, one where the voices of smart women show us the way.