Did you know that living together first is a predictor of divorce?
That may not seem like it makes sense… you try out the situation, get to know each other better… that should make it easier to be married, right? Wrong.
Just like any other relationship, when you first meet someone and start living together, you’re forming and developing all sorts of communication patterns together. You’re working out how you talk to each other, what kinds of subjects are easy to talk about, what subjects are not so easy to talk about, how much you reveal, how much you hide, and that all determines how you problem solve. People don’t get divorced because of how much they agree with each other. They get divorced because they can’t resolve the things they don’t agree about.
Unresolved disagreements can easily turn into arguments and arguments often turn into the kinds of screaming matches and ugliness that do a great deal of damage. So this business of how to problem solve and how you communicate with each other is actually a really big deal.
The problem with living together is it’s all based on a fraud. There is no commitment. You are not legally committed. You are not morally committed. You are not religiously committed. You are not psychologically committed. You are going through a pretense – a make-believe marriage. And it is not like the real thing. everybody knows that if you lived together, and things get too bad, or it becomes too difficult, you can just leave – walk away – after all, it’s not like you’re married! And that superficial way of approaching the relationship shows up in how you problem solve… that thing if you know how to do it to keeps you out of divorce court later.
So what happens is couples end up superficially dealing with issues or problems or disagreements and that does not fix them. Or they may just not bring difficult subjects in the first place, so they don’t have to worry about being rejected, or “causing a problem”, or rocking the boat. Notice this is a fear-based structure. Most live-in couples don’t want to risk really diving into things that need to be worked on are talked about because they feared their partner may not want to hang in and do the hard work of actually fixing things. In the end it’s really a referendum on their belief system. Most couples who live together don’t believe their partner cares enough about them to actually go the distance; know all about their personal “stuff”, or know about the topics they need to work together on, and go all in to do that.
All about leads to a way of talking about things and resolving problems that doesn’t have much skill to it, and is used for the things that probably need those skills the most. No two people will agree on everything. That just doesn’t happen. So it’s not a problem to disagree – it is a problem to have unresolved disagreements. Living together promotes unresolved disagreements intends to limit real effective problem solving which is why once people get married, it becomes a problem. Just because you eat wedding cake doesn’t mean magically your problem-solving skills get better. So when you are married, and in a situation that requires more of you, requires that you dig deeper, requires that you are more serious minded about fixing things, resolving issues, and reaching compromise an agreement, you only have the skills of a casual relationship where you did not really practice any of those things to any great degree.