Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sliding vs. deciding when it comes to marriage

By
From page A2 | October 09, 2012 |

Even after our marriage next week, my then-new husband Tom and I will not be living together, at least not full time, until next summer. It has to do with where our kids are in their lives, their schools, and so on. There will be lots of commuting and two homes about 45 minutes apart until then.

More than a few people have wondered: “Just why are you getting married now?” We joke to them that most folks today live together without getting married, so we decided to turn things on their head and get married without living together.

Of course, the real reason is that we want the commitment of marriage, and the responsibilities and privileges that come with it, even though we can’t live together full time right now.

Many will admit that our chances of staying married are, yes, statistically higher than for those who live together before marriage. It’s just that this commonly understood truth isn’t typically considered practical information. People will say, “So what? That’s because of your values, not the living history itself.”

But it turns out it may really be because Tom and I are “deciders,” not “sliders.”

Apparently for some couples who live together before marriage, cohabiting, per se, may actually contribute to unhappiness after marriage and even to divorce. That’s because, as researchers at the University of Denver have shown, cohabiting may lead to sliding into a marriage you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.

Uh-oh.

Scott Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, told me that often couples who live together report that their cohabiting “just happened.” Then, after years of combining household stuff, expenses, and less tangible things like friends and family, the couple may “slide” into marriage itself. In contrast, if they’d lived separately, they might have more clearly seen problems in the relationship and more easily extricated themselves from it – before marriage.

Stanley calls it the “sliding vs. deciding” phenomenon. As he explained to me, cohabitation has natural constraints on it, from the shared address to the shared power bill. If they continue on that path toward marriage because of the inertia of the relationship – it just seems difficult to change directions – such couples will typically have a lower-quality relationship even if they do stay married. And, in fact, the data is clear that couples who live together before marriage are, statistically speaking, not as likely to be happy as those who didn’t cohabit.

By the way, the negative effects on marriage of living together diminish significantly if the couple move in together after they are engaged to be married, which makes the findings themselves ring even more true.

But isn’t marriage itself the ultimate “constraint” on a relationship? I asked Stanley. What’s really the difference if you end up in the same place?

Because, he explained to me, in one case you may find yourself constrained without actively choosing it; and in the other, you are seeking it. And that can make a huge difference in whether you see the constraints of marriage, and the relationship itself, as positive.

It’s sometimes the case that a “slider” marries a “decider,” and that can be particularly difficult. (More on that next week.)

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all cohabiting couples who marry will eventually divorce or are unhappy, by any means. Look, I didn’t live with my first husband before marriage, either, and I ended up being blindsided by my union ending.

But particularly with cohabiting so the norm today, Stanley’s findings suggest that it may be wise for anyone in a relationship to simply ask: “Am I sliding or deciding when it comes to this romance?”

Betsy Hart’s latest book is “From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports).” Reach her through [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

 
Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
 
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3, 20 Comments

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics