The recent Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey shows that about one-third of those surveyed consider living with a partner before marriage “not wrong most of the time” or “not wrong at all” (“S’poreans Against Sex Outside Marriage: Poll Finding”; Jan 29).
This opinion probably stems from the belief that living together is a good way for a couple to test their compatibility and predict marital success or failure. By and large, women are more likely to see their cohabitating relationship as a conveyor belt eventually leading to marriage. Guys, on the other hand, are more likely to see their cohabiting relationship as the opportunity to see each other more often, have fun together, make sure he feels taken care of, and gain access to more regular sex.
Though cohabiting couples might hope to eventually marry, they are less likely to do so in reality and are more likely to give up on their relationship when the going gets tough.
In fact, studies have shown that only about 40 per cent of cohabiting couples actually marry. Of those that do, they are more likely to have poorer communication, lower marital satisfaction and ultimately, a 50 to 80 per cent greater risk of divorce.
Instead of living with a partner before marriage to test-drive the relationship, it would be more helpful in the long run for couples contemplating marriage to participate in a structured marriage preparation program. This will equip them to enter into the lifelong commitment of marriage with skills to improve communication, resolve conflict, handle finances and manage expectations, that will inadvertently lead to an overall improvement in the quality of a marriage relationship.
Mrs Dinah Lee-Phua
Head – Research & Development
Focus on the Family Singapore