Q&A: Living together before marriage


Is living together before marriage a good test of marital compatibility? My boyfriend and I both come from broken homes, and want to make sure we don’t end up divorced like our parents.

Answer: Many well-intended couples believe that living together before marrying is a good way to find out whether they have what it takes to build a strong marriage. Intuitively speaking, it seems to make sense that a “test drive” will provide all the information needed to predict marital success or failure. Unfortunately, when stacked against the facts, the exact opposite is true. The best research indicates that couples who live together before marriage have a 50 per cent higher divorce rate than those who don’t. These couples also have higher rates of domestic violence and are more likely to become involved in sexual affairs. If a cohabiting couple gets pregnant, there is a high probability that the man will abandon the relationship within two years, leaving a single mum to raise a fatherless child.

A far better alternative to the one you’re considering is premarital counselling. The best way to test your compatibility for marriage is to date for at least one year before engagement while participating in a structured counselling program that includes psychological testing.

Pre-marriage assessment tools, such as The Couple Checkup available through the Focus on the Family Malaysia website, can also be helpful. This assessment is an in-depth set of questions that will identify the areas where you shine as well as help you target spots that could use a little improvement as a couple.

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