I am Catholic and oh boy do I have a lot of that cradle-Catholic guilt. It doesn’t help that my parents egg it on even more.
“He is sleeping on the couch, right?” is the first comment I got when I told my parents my boyfriend packed up his car and drove the 400+ miles to live with me in York, Pennsylvania. They also said, “This walk-in closet would make a great second bedroom. Just get a twin mattress.”
Of course I would prefer to have some bling on my ring finger after almost three years, but sometimes life and finances get in the way. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t weigh on my mind, especially with statistics thrown out there these days, such as:
- Couples who live together before getting married are less likely to stay married. (Source)
- In the United States the risk of divorce is 50 percent higher for cohabitors than for non-cohabitors. (Source)
- Living together outside of marriage increases the risk of domestic violence for women, and the risk of physical and sexual abuse for children. (Source)
- Unmarried couples have lower levels of happiness and well-being than married couples. (Source)
But a study published last week refutes that last statistic: In terms of health, self-esteem, and psychological well-being, marriage offers little benefit over simply living together. The study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, and is now all over the news.
In general, both getting married and moving in together brought an uptick in happiness and self-esteem, compared to being single, but this feeling faded over time. This means marriage and cohabitation are on equal footing, except one area: health. Married people did report better overall health than cohabitors, but there are entitlements when becoming married, such as adding a spouse to your health insurance. Acquiring health insurance can be solved in other ways, if one just simply can’t afford to be legally bound or doesn’t want to.
So, there you go, Ma! God might smite me but at least I will be happy!
All jokes aside, I think it’s up to the couple to make the decision if they are ready or not to legally and otherwise tie themselves together, or to stay where they are. As long as everyone is happy — and that’s the point, right?