In our book, My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It, we talk about how behaviors like cohabiting can bind a couple together in a “heart marriage,” even though the union is not legal. We caution couples to be aware of this and to fully discuss with each other the direction in which they want the relationship to go. We have written in this blog about the most recent Census Data that tell us that the rate of cohabiting is rising. For those couples who look at cohabiting as “trying the relationship out,” you should know that statistics do not indicate that marriages after cohabiting are any more successful than if a couple hasn’t cohabited. The flip side of that is that the statistics don’t seem to indicate that they are less successful either.
Another phenomenon that goes a step beyond cohabiting and certainly seems potentially problematic is that more and more unmarried couples are purchasing houses together without making any commitment to marry. In the past few weeks, we have heard of 3 or 4 couples who have or who are in the process of buying a house together, but are not married or making any definite plans. Hmmmm …. let’s see ….. they are willing to commit to a 20-30 year mortgage, but haven’t committed to each other for that length of time! Even if they aren’t saying it, we believe it is very likely that at least one of the two persons in those relationships is hoping that a marriage will ensue. If so — this step of homeownership certainly has the potential to be both emotionally and financially risky. Hopefully they have a contract that spells out “who gets what” if the relationship doesn’t work!
In our book, we introduce a couple who was in this boat to no good end. Also, recently one of our readers talked about a young woman who was devastated — literally paralyzed with depression — because after a long-term relationship that included joint homeownership, the relationship broke up. Talking about breaking up feeling just like a divorce — dividing property is not pleasant, especially when your heart is breaking!
What do you think?
Barbara & Lora