Despite recent assertions that "50% of all marriages in the US end in divorce," according to a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, at 3.6 out of 1,000 marriages, the divorce rate is actually “at its lowest level since 1970” (Matthew, 2007). There are several reasons for the decline: increased use of family planning; higher income and greater education opportunities for women; and skewed data interpretation, among others.
One major reason divorce rates are declining is that the number of marriages has also declined (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2007) and more couples are postponing the decision to legally “tie the knot”. It goes without saying that the better you know your partner before taking your relationship to the next level, the less likely you are to part ways unhappily further down the road. I consulted with a group of empowered women about the topic of marriage and they indicated that in order to truly get to know one another, there are several experiences couples should share before considering marriage. Feel free to comment on the list – in the interest of maintaining a low divorce rate in the U.S., we will all benefit from your opinions.
1. Live together.
This is possibly the most common-sense piece of advice on the list. In addition to becoming accustomed to your partner’s everyday habits and any odd idiosyncrasies that weren’t apparent before you were sharing a bathroom, living together also allows you to witness his/her financial philosophies and decision-making skills. If your significant other is prone to extravagant, superfluous purchases, or if he/she is incapable of making important life decisions, these are things you will want to know before committing “til death do you part”. Because money issues motivate a large percentage of disagreements between partners, understanding the manner in which your beloved prioritizes spending, saving and sharing is very important.
2. Travel together.
Vacations can be fun, relaxing and a chance to escape the monotony of everyday scheduling, but they can also be disastrous downward spirals into stress and general unhappiness.