According to 2007 census information, the number of unmarried couples that are living together is up another 10%, reaching around 6.4 million people. As for the latest census information, analysts expect that the numbers will continue to soar higher, perhaps increasing by one million people each year.
This sudden rise in numbers has a lot to do with the fact that couples are becoming more honest about their living situations and no longer see living together as an ‘immoral act.’ It also doesn’t hurt that the census bureau has recently reworded their questioning to ask ‘room mates’ whether they are a live in boy or girlfriend. Yet, with all these folk’s cohabitating and living the mirage of a married life – does it mean that they are suffering from a fear of commitment?
Really, why not just get married already?
Do a little digging and you will see that plenty of agencies, non-profit and otherwise, including the National Center for Health Statistics and the Marriage Project (A Christian based entourage against co-habitation) are seemingly proving that living together before marriage is actually a recipe for marital disaster. Over all, studies by both of these agencies seem to predict that around 8 out of every 10 couples who lives together before marriage will see the relationship end in divorce prior to the decade mark. Strangely, most people believe that living together, setting up house - and ‘practicing’ married life would in actuality make a marriage more viable.
There are also millions of couples who have been dating for extended amounts of time (over 5 years) but have yet to live together or tie the knot of wedded bliss. For people in these relationships, the status can be frustrating. At some point, you have to fathom that people are either right for each other or they are not. And if marriage is something that you want, but your partner bucks…it only makes relationship sense to question the motives. After all, what’s the point of hanging on to the dream of ‘someday’ being man and wife – if it becomes obvious that the ‘someday’ is never going to get here.
Cohabitation is often seen as ‘commitment with an escape hatch.’ Although you are committed by all senses of the word, you won’t be forced to experience an awful divorce or separation that includes joint custody of the Jet Ski. For many people, that is exactly where the fear of commitment is derived from. Maybe they have seen their own parent’s journey through an ugly divorce, or have stood by friends in a hateful custody battle. Witnessing the aftermath of a marriage gone by, even as a bystander – can leave quite an impression on people. The thinking is that if you never get married, you will never have to get divorced. If this is how you or your partner feels – perhaps it isn’t a fear of commitment, but a fear of divorce that keeps you from taking the walk down the aisle.
For years, the fear of commitment type has been stereotyped as men. However, today – the Census Bureau reports that single women, who have never married – are the fastest growing population group. In the book, Kiss and Run, by Elina Furman – she explores why today, women too are so afraid of settling down. Today’s women are able to live a fully supportive life without a husband – even to the extent of having children, and are less anxious to settle down and get married. Additionally, today’s couples in the average age range of getting married are the product of parents who seemingly changed the tide when it comes to probability of divorce. As expectations to stay in unhappy marriages subsided and a more liberated tone of thinking made divorce less of a social or moral failure – people in their early to late twenties are very likely to come from divorced homes themselves. Living through the divorce from a child’s perspective can often leave a long lasting impression of marriage on their psyche, making them apprehensive about the idea of marriage themselves. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to benefit from the love and support of having a partner in their life – just simply that they aren’t interested in making a life decision to marry.
Furthermore, statistics on divorce today don’t help people who are afraid of commitment feel warm and fuzzy about the idea of marriage. The reality is that around half of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce is not only expensive, but it can completely ruin many aspects of a person’s life. Living together, dating extensively – not so much.
In the end, what matters is how you feel. Perhaps you are the one who gets anxious sweaty palms at the idea of becoming a husband or wife, or maybe it is your partner. You have to at some point decide for yourself whether fulfilling the ‘idea’ and formality of marriage will be a deal breaker in you relationship. None of us start out dating someone with the initial dialogue that getting married has to be part of the plan should the relationship succeed. And sadly, by the time most people realize they are in love, it is too late to make stipulations in regards to how much you or your partner is willing to commit.
In love, like in all things that involve two people – it is often difficult to be exactly on the same page when it comes to marriage and commitment. Sometimes, it might be best to revel in the magic you have, with the situation you are in, rather than be adamant about forcing someone to commit further. There is nothing to say that having a ring on your finger and sharing a last name will make you happier than you already are.