According to new research, cohabiting couples are more likely to marry when they (a) earn incomes similar to their married peers and (b) when both partners in the relationship have similar income levels.
According to the research (Ishizuka, 2018), those economically disadvantaged are also more likely to separate. The researcher highlights that there is a growing socioeconomic divide whereby marriage seems reserved for those on better incomes and state that divorce rates since the 1960s have been steepest for individuals with less education. They also found that, within this sample of data spanning 1996-2013, couples with higher and more equal earnings are significantly less likely to separate.
On the one hand the we can understand that this may stem from a greater feeling of current and future stability within the relationship and within life because we are driven by our desire for survival and well-being and financial stability helps with emotional stability and gives us the ability to have a fulfilling lifestyle.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean some of you would split from your partner if you didn’t earn similar incomes because when the love is deep enough, you want to be together forever, whatever that requires.
Equally, couples on disparate incomes may be more likely to split, not because of the financial aspects per se, but because those incomes may over time reflect a mismatch on other important relationship factors that become increasingly disruptive as the relationship continues. For example, the differing income may reflect a differing work ethic, differing values, or differing long-term goals that may only fully transpire and drive a distance between the couple, whilst cohabiting.
Similarly, similar incomes within couples may reflect a better alignment of factors that help solidify a marriage, such as a greater match between values, work ethic, life goals and consideration for one’s teammate.
It’s so important to be on the same page about the important stuff like shared future goals and values and if you’re going to cohabit, make sure it is for the right reasons, i.e. not because it presently makes financial sense to share bills. You should always be having frank conversations with each other and with yourself before you decide to cohabit, marry or have children, so that you know you are bonded for the long-haul, not for ‘until life gets difficult’. Life will get difficult at times so if you’re not going to be great teammates for each other, you may as well not waste so much of your life with the ‘wrong’ partner.
Application To Your Life
Asking ourselves good questions can help us to determine whether we are making cohabiting, marriage and child-bearing choices for the right reasons and with the right person, for example:
- Am I wanting to marry them because I want to spend the rest of my life with them no matter what and can’t imagine my life without them? (Makes sense.)
- Am I wanting to marry them because it seems like a natural next step? (Marriage isn’t a natural next step, marriage is for those who want to be together ’til death parts them.)
- Am I marrying them because they earn a lot of money? (Money can help, but it won’t see you through all the challenges you’ll face in a life together.)
- Am I wanting to cohabit because it will help ease my/our financial burden? (We spend our lives with others for many reasons, and financial gains has a limit in how fulfilled you will be in your relationship and your life.)
The choices you make now can affect the rest of your life so you must be motivated by the right reasons. Don’t bury your head in the sand and pay the consequences later in life or for the rest of your life. Be clear and honest with yourselves and each other now, and you’ll both be better off in the long-term.