To marry or not to marry? The rate of marriage has declined by 50 percent since 1970. Today, 10 million US couples choose to live together instead of marry. Discover the causes and consequences of this trend, and find out what makes a live-in relationship thrive or fail in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Dr. John Curtis. He is a couples counselor and author of Happily Unmarried: Living Together and Loving It.
HF: For the first time in US history, there are more single than married adults. The US Census bureau estimates that 9.7 million straight couples and 1.2 million gay couples live together, which is 20 percent of all US couples. Why is America becoming a cohabitation nation?
JC: The living together couple today is very different from the couples who started this trend back in the 1960’s. Then, couples were revolting against institutions like marriage. Today, it’s not an act of rebellion. Fear of divorce is the motivation.
HF: Statistics reveal that children of divorce are more likely to live together than marry, typically because they want to test compatibility and avoid their parents’ mistakes. Yet half of co-habitating couples also say they may marry someday. What can we learn from our parent’s choices to create a better relationship than they did?
JC: Today, couples should tell their parents that living together doesn’t mean they’re not committed to each other. It means they are finding new ways to create a relationship that actually works.
HF: Let’s talk about what makes live-in relationships thrive or fail. What advice do you have for couples in budding romances or long-term partnerships?
JC: Nothing kills romance like arguing over who takes out the trash, or expecting your partner to do all the cooking or household chores after you’ve each worked all day. So I encourage every couple to create a job description that divides up household duties and chores.
I also suggest you create a vision statement that describes in 25 words your vision for your relationship. Do you want to raise a family then retire on a boat and sail the world? Do you want a house and an active life in your community with one or two vacations a year?
HF: I often encourage dating singles to talk about what a happy relationship and life looks like. If you want to sail the world and your partner won’t set foot on a boat, then you’re mis-matched. To prevent a breakup over irreconcilable differences, it’s important to choose a love match who shares your vision for your life now and in the future.
JC: I also encourage every couple to create a co-habitation contract before you move in together. It describes what each of you will do to keep your relationship on the happiness track. I’ll give you a contract at no charge on my website.
HF: KISS rocker, Gene Simmons, is well known for having a co-habitation contract with his live-in love, Shannon Tweed. After living together nearly 30 years, they got married in October, 2011. When live-in couples decide to marry, should they create a marriage contract that’s renewable?
JC: That’s a good idea, especially if you’ve been hurt before. It’s good to outline your agreement on sex, leisure activities, chores, finances, child rearing, religion, etc. If your partner lives up to the agreement for a year or a few years, then you renew. If they do so for ten years, then you’ve built enough trust so that you may not need to renew the agreement.
HF: What are the top two qualities you need to create a great relationship with lasting love, whether you live together or marry?
JC: Great relationships need romantic chemistry and emotional maturity. You can’t study how to create chemistry, because usually it’s there or it’s not for unknown reasons. Men often need guidance on gaining maturity, just like a non-swimmer needs swimming lessons before you dive into the deep end.
HF: And you will become more mature by creating and honoring your relationship job description, vision statement, co-habitation contract or renewable marriage contract. So I encourage you to download your sample contracts for FREE at www.drjohncurtis.com Then design your dream relationship today.
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