Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Boyfriend as a Roomie

This is a concept that is not really relevant to our community, but I found it interesting anyway. 

Studies have shown that couples that live together before marriage are more prone to divorce, despite the prevalence of public opinion that it is the best way to go. The theory until now was that those who cohabit out of wedlock are nontraditional, meaning they would not consider divorce to be scandalous. 

But this article, written by clinical psychiatrist Meg Jay, presents another view. 

When couples decide to move in together, it's not because they have made a deep decision; it's more that going back to their own places to brush their teeth and change every morning is a drag. So they "slide" into living together for convenience. And their motivations are different; most women think they are a step closer to marriage, men think they are postponing eventual commitment. Their different interpretations already poses a problem.  
Sharing a place has a host of economic benefits. Since a couple is splitting expenses, they can afford a nicer place, share technology, and save on a host of other things. But once in this situation, they can't get out. Splitting up is no longer a financial option.  

Now there is nowhere to go but forward, with marriage. Which leads to divorce all too quickly, since they weren't in the end a suitable couple, simply a casual fling, upgraded instead of tossed.  

I always wonder what it would be like to date with no specific goal in mind. I can't understand it. How do two people meet and not try to figure out if, on a deeper level, they were meant to be together? Wasted years are devoted to doomed relationships, all because no one made a point to be aware.


MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

To be blunt, it's about the sex.
See, for all we make fun of Chasidim for their extreme separation of the sexes, it happens in secular society as well.
If the guy wants to have fun on a Sunday afternoon who does he call up? If it's to watch a football game or go out drinking beer with the buds, does he call the girlfriend?
Same thing on the other side: if there's a great sale at the mall (I'm being stereotypical for both sides) who does she call?
That's why these relationships fall apart quicker. A relationship based on sexual attraction has a certain shelf life. By living together first, the couple uses up much of that time so when they marry there's only a little left before things fall apart.

Yedid Nefesh said...

Oh my, Frumanista, i;ve been wondering the same. How do people date to date? I can't either. I was wondering if it was because of our education or the moving in thing.. Ill make it a blog post soon but im glad you brought it up!

A good friend of mine is getting married in a week to her boyfriend of five years. They moved in together two years ago and are both traditionally observant. yet, she said that if she could do it all over again, she would not want to move in before they got married (and he agrees)

Princess Lea said...

MGI: Well, I have cousins who are chassidim, so I know they aren't so mock-able. :)

YN: Yeah, that's the thing - thankfully in our community (at least, in mine) dating for the most part is for one purpose: marriage. Not for a casual relationship that isn't going anywhere. I don't think I can do casual, so I'm in a good place.

Anonymous said...

I don't follow- the couple found a way to save a few hundredrs dollars a month, now they have no way out of the relationship but get married and spend thousands of dollars more on a mediocre relationship?

%Shocked% said...

Fascinating article...

@Anon: Lol! Well said!

corti said...

I like your theory about nontraditional couples and also what the psychologist posits about the haphazard upgrade. I have a particular classmate in mind (non-Jewish) whose cohabiting relationship appears to be hanging on only by the comfort of habit and convenience. She won't acknowledge it but the dynamics she describes and the way she regards her boyfriend seems far from healthy. For some reason I think they're doomed but it's not my place to say anything.

About dating with no specific goal in mind... if I didn't lead a religious life I think I could palate that. I don't like the idea of more breakups/heartache than necessary but the idea of casual relationships and being promiscuous prior to marriage isn't so horrible to the alternate universe if-I-didn't-have-yiras-shamayim (tongue in cheek) part of me. The problem is switching from the casual relationship track to the marriage track. I can think of very few people who do that successfully, but no matter what I'd want to end up in a traditional marriage... so I suppose it's best to choose that track from the start, just like the way we do it now. You can't always get the best of both worlds.

Sparrow said...

I don't know. Every time I hear people talking about dating "to date", these same people talk about gaining experience or physical affection or fulfillment. Most of the time, when I hear people mentioning that they're looking to get married, they talk about giving, sharing, or building. That, to me, is the biggest difference between the two.

Princess Lea said...

Anon: Every girl nowadays wants to be a Bridezilla.

Corti: Any sort of change in mindset is hard.

I always get irritated when I read stories about people just hanging out until they realize "Hey, I want kids, but now I'm pushing 40, and maybe that abortion wasn't such a good idea."

Life doesn't accommodate you to your schedule. If someone is serious from the beginning about having the picket fence, then they don't have to majorly reevaluate their lives.

Sparrow: Well put.

Wig Making Diva said...

I don't think co-habiting is just about the sex. Maybe from a male point of view it might be more than a woman's. I think a lot of it is about people not wanting to commit fully - they want all the best parts of a relationship and don't want to hassle (like the article said) of having to back and forth between two living spaces. So they feel they get this, yet without the commitment of saying: this is the one person I am going to be with forever. Some non-religious friends of mine have also asserted that they wished to 'try it' before they made the commitment, the theory being that if they try before they buy they can find out if the person has any habits that they cannot stand or if they are seuxal incompatible. The thing is, it reduces everything to a 'non-special' level. You get married and go back to the life and the home you had before you got married. For me, getting married would signify the next step in my life - leaving the family home and moving someplace else, experiencing a new sensation of being a married woman rather than the woman I was before I got married but now with another ring... etc etc.

On the dating - I have never been a person who could 'just date' for the sake of dating either. Hence why dating men who I realised at some point I could not marry, lead to date termination on my part. I don't see the point of dating someone you don't see a future with... it's a waste of time! In that sense... I do think some non-religious people do enjoy dating just for the sexual aspect... because they can and it's available with no commitment again.

Princess Lea said...

WMD: Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? :D