Marriage Is Just a Piece of Paper - Part 2
- Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Why People Choose to Live Together and Why It Doesn’t Work
The lie that marriage is just a piece of paper is usually cloaked in other common little lies. They are so cliché that nobody questions them anymore, and most people miss what is really being said.
It’s just so much more convenient for us to live together. I mean, it’s less expensive to share rent and utilities than to pay for two. Besides, it’s easier not to have to carry my overnight bag back and forth all the time.
This is just another way of saying, “I want you to carry my baggage so that I don’t have to be responsible . . . and if anything should go wrong, I can just leave you holding the bag—or the bills.”
To a female, this trial run is a naïve hope that her live-in boyfriend will eventually see it her way and commit to marriage—but studies show that the longer they live together, the more negative his (and perhaps even her) attitude about marriage and childbearing will be.6 She may hope for a wedding, but odds are she’ll be disappointed in what’s really coming—the relationship between living together and eventual divorce is very strong.7
Individuals who choose to cohabitate often develop a relatively low tolerance for unhappiness and a greater willingness to quit relationships, including marriage, because they have established a pattern of leaving rather than choosing to work through differences.8 (For further clarification, I recommend you watch a few episodes of Judge Judy. She does a much better job of explaining why single people should not shack up than I ever could, considering that she’s been sitting on the bench as a judge longer than I have been alive.)
Moreover, the breakup of a cohabiting relationship is not necessarily cleaner or easier than a divorce. Any breakup that involves splitting up a household may lead to conflicts over property, leases, and past due bills, bills, bills.9 Just ask Judge Judy. If you’ve never seen her dispense justice to the victims of a live-in situation gone bad, let me tell you—it’s never good! Being house-mates and being spouse-mates are not the same under the law.
I think we need to see if we’re sexually compatible.
Compatibility? Are people still using this tired old line? First of all, if this person approaches you and you have any hopes of the two of you ever getting married, forget it! Your beloved’s obsession with sexual “compatibility” reveals that he or she is more likely to have a negative attitude about marriage and in the long run is more likely to accept divorce as a solution to marriage problems.10
Second, if they are basing a marriage on whether or not the sex is good, they aren’t a good marriage candidate—to say the least. Someone who makes such a dumb statement with regard to marriage hasn’t the faintest idea what marriage is all about. Married people spend much more time doing life than doing it. Compatibility is a choice.
When it comes to compatibility, I like to say, “Read the box before you buy your software.” Will it function with your hardware and operating system? This is all you need to know, and all that information is printed on the package. I can hear you asking now, “Why buy the software when I can download it for free?” Because free downloads are how you get viruses.
Test Driving, a.k.a. “Practice”
I think living together 24/7 is good practice to see if we get along, without having to be trapped in a marriage if it doesn’t work. It’s just not smart to buy a car without test driving it.
The fear of commitment is rampant these days. I know commitment can be a scary thing—especially if you’ve been burned before—but equating living together and test driving (or even leasing!) a car is just wacked. It’s a bad metaphor. No car dealer in his right mind would let you go four-wheeling in the Sahara or drag-racing on the Autobahn in a car you haven’t paid for yet—and the high-speed extreme sport of living with another person makes four-wheeling or drag-racing look like a trip on a merry-go-round. Marriage is like owning a Rolls with the speed of a LOTUS and the safety of a Volvo. Don’t settle for test driving a Geo Metro. It just won’t get you very far.
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