Monday, January 21, 2008

Marriage Monday

I was reading some information today about The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. One of their publications, The Top Ten Myths of Marriage, discusses the myth that couples who live together before marriage really get to know each other better and have longer lasting marriages because they are so well suited for each other.

I have found, in almost 34 years of marriage, that marriage is more about commitment than feeling, and more about the decision to accept my spouse than my skill in finding someone who suits me well. My picture of the difference between living together and being married is like the difference between renting an apartment and buying a house. When I was newly married we rented an apartment. In some ways it was great…no maintenance, no lawn mowing, no long term commitment. If something broke all I had to do was call the landlord. There was a down side to being a renter however. I couldn’t paint the walls in my apartment, I didn’t get the benefit of mortgage tax deductions, I had to wait, sometimes for weeks, for the landlord to fix things.

When couples chose to live together before marriage they are like renters. They want the benefits without the commitment. Dr. Willard Harley, Jr., asks, “What, exactly, is the commitment of marriage? It is an agreement that you will take care of each other for life, regardless of life's ups and downs. You will stick it out together through thick and thin. But the commitment of living together isn't like that at all. It is simply a month-to-month rental agreement. As long as you behave yourself and keep me happy, I'll stick around.
Habits are hard to break, and couples that live together before marriage get into the habit of following their month-to-month rental agreement. In fact, they often decide to marry, not because they are willing to make a lifetime commitment to each other, but because the arrangement has worked out so well that they can't imagine breaking their lease, so to speak. They say the words of the marital agreement, but they still have the terms of their rental agreement in mind.

Couples who have not lived together before marriage, on the other hand, have not lived under the terms of the month-to-month rental agreement. They begin their relationship assuming that they are in this thing for life, and all their habits usually reflect that commitment.”

Check out Dr. Harley’s website Marriage Builders and the Rutgers University web site to find out more.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Interesting study....I lived with my husband before we got married, not because we wanted to test the waters and see if it would work but because I needed to move out of my parents house. My husband no I ever felt like it was an option to simply walk away from my 'renters agreement' I dunno..maybe it's different for some people. I do know that after almost 14 years together, I am more in love with him than ever.