Baby boomers were known as trend setters and while cohabitating trend setters like Oprah, Brad and Jolene are in the spotlight now, many boomers have been "living in sin" for decades. The 60s were a time that every institution in America was tested and for many, discarded. Marriage is one of those institutions and we have never been the same since. In place of marriage many are opting for the new "institution" of cohabitation. The novelty of living together outside of marriage is no longer new, but the fact that it has become mainstream is.The way couples define commitment is dynamic. In our parent's time, pre-1960s, few couples lived together without virtue of marriage. If they did, no one ever talked about it. Now, in part, due to all the boomers who shacked up in the 60s, got married in the 70s, divorced in the 80s and who raised the first generation of children from broken homes, cohabitation is back with a vengeance. Since so many of the children of boomers fear a failed marriage, nearly 10 million couples are living together, instead, in an attempt to "learn from their parents mistakes." The fact is that many of these parents who made the mistakes have gone back to cohabitation, as well. Living together is not just for the twenty-something crowd.
Try before you commit, is a logical yet frequently discredited approach to building a successful relationship in the shadow of decades of failed marriages. While the U.S. leads the world in divorce, when it comes to cohabitation, we are playing catch-up with our Western European cousins who have some of the highest cohabitation rates in the world. This time around, we have the opportunity to get it right, to make cohabitation a successful institution rather than a failed social experiment as it was in the 60s.
Our motives have changed, seeing that we no longer cohabitate to rebel, to indulge in free love or to reject our parent's values. Instead, our motive is fear-based. We don't want to make the same mistakes our parents did or have another failed marriage ourselves. This time around, we need to take a totally different approach to improving the fitness and sustainability of our live-in relationships. We need a clear, step-by-step method that is not touchy-feely, judgmental nor complicated and is based on the reality of what it means to be in a committed relationship in the 21st century.