Advising individuals as to how to handle their cohabitation with a significant other is becoming an increasingly important aspect of my practice. There are many studies, theories, and myths as to the impact (positive or negative) on whether cohabitating before marriage is beneficial or detrimental to a marriage. A recent New York Times article addresses this very issue and finds that the results from a study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia indicate that those who cohabit are less satisfied with their marriages.

The intriguing part of the study is that since the survey was originally conducted in 2001, cohabitating at some point before marriage has increasingly become the norm for couples, therefore, the sample group of successful or unsuccessful marriages among cohabitors is increasing.

The psychological analysis by the writer, University of Virginia clinical psychologist Meg Jay, is fascinating, particularly in how she applies "consumer" concepts to how people view their liviing situations. For the psychological layperson, it can be grossly generalized as settling for the person you are living with because, frankly, going out and finding someone else is hard when you share a lease.


Dr. Jay’s article adds to the conversation as to whether cohabitation “works” or not, but her work clearly demonstrates that relationships do not magically change simply because people get married.