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Does Living together before Marriage Lead to Divorce?

Many people assume that if a couple moves-in together prior to getting married the marriage has a better chance of surviving.  While this assumption makes sense for a variety of reasons, a recent article in the New York Post suggests the opposite may be true.

According to researchers featured in the article, a survey of couples who had been married for less than ten 10 years revealed those who had lived together prior to getting married were less happy with their current situation.  The reasoning behind this seemingly bizarre results is that when spouses had moved in with the boyfriend or girlfriend, the couple was already committed to being in that relationship.  This leads to marriages that may not have happened had the couples been living apart prior to setting a date for the wedding.

One the other hand, couples who were not living together made more of a conscious decision to get married and were not merely accepting their current relationship according to researchers.  These couples were found have to a stronger level of commitment to their spouse.  This was seen as them deciding to get married rather than “sliding” into a marriage. 

Scientists believe there is a chemical process in the brain affecting how we handle relationships.  When a person meets someone he or she finds attractive, his or her brain begins to release chemicals that can actually cloud one’s judgment. When feeling like this, a person may start to do things that locks him or her into a relationship.  These things can be as simple as getting a family cellphone plan, and eventually co-signing a car loan.  Perhaps the couple gets a pet together. 

The problem is that these chemicals associated with the new and exciting relationship will not last forever.  You may realize you don’t really want to spend the rest of your life with this person once the dopamine effects wear off.  You may have moved in together to save on rent because you were basically living together anyway, but now you have become even more committed to being a couple than an individual person.  Perhaps this is what John Mellencamp meant when he said “life goes on long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”


The research also suggests this may not be an accident.  One person in the relationship may have been doing these things to make a marriage proposal more likely.

While this is only one study, and may or may not be accurate, as a Washington, DC divorce lawyer, I have spoken to people who are in an unhappy marriage for a variety of reasons.  Some of them lived with their spouse before marriage and others did not.  The point is that once you realize your marriage is in trouble, and isn’t going to get any better, a divorce may be the only way for you to get out of the situation and get on with the rest of your life. 

If you living in Washington, DC and need assistance with a divorce, child support, child custody, or other family law matter, contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC for a full and confidential consultation at (202) 596-5716.

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