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Improve Your Odds for a Successful Marriage

Research professor Scott Stanley at the University of Denver writes:

A substantial number of practicing Christians believe that living together before marriage is a good idea—at least 41%, by one estimate. Although far more nonreligious people believe the same thing (88%), 41% is not a small group, and it’s likely growing over time.

A recent report from the Institute for Family Studies surveyed people who married for the first time in the years 2010 to 2019. We found conclusions similar to those of past studies: Patterns of cohabitation before marriage remain associated with higher odds of divorce.

What people often miss is the inertia that comes with moving in together. In essence, cohabiting couples are making it harder to break up before nailing down their commitments. Many of them get stuck in a relationship they might otherwise have moved on from.

Consistent with our theory of inertia, we find that couples who moved in together before engagement were 48% more likely to end their marriages than those who cohabited only after getting wed or at least engaged. We also show that moving in together for “relationship testing” or financial convenience is associated with higher risks for divorce.

Possible Preaching Angle:

In light of this research, Christians contemplating marriage may wonder what they can do to improve their odds of staying married. Scott Stanley suggests four principles: 1. Don’t believe the hype that living together is good for your relationship. 2. Slow down. Two people need time to learn more about each other 3. Don’t move in together to test the relationship. 4. Participate in premarital training or counseling.

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