Making marriage work with Dr. Liz Hale

Feb 8, 2022, 5:16 PM

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, Steven Paska, 26, of Arlington, Va., proposes to his girl...

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, Steven Paska, 26, of Arlington, Va., proposes to his girlfriend of two years Jessica Deegan, 27, framed by cherry blossom trees in peak bloom, in Washington D.C. Deegan said yes to the surprise marriage proposal. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s marriage-proposal season. According to The Knot, almost 40 percent of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Should couples live together before marrying? Women who married between age 22 and 30, without first living together, had some of the lowest rates of divorce in the U.S. government’s National Survey of Family Growth.

The new marriage norm for American men and women is to marry around the age of 30, according to the U.S. Census.

Should we live together first?

Dr. Liz Hale joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic to talk about when to put a wedding ring on.

“Is it appropriate to live together first? Back in our day, it would not have been appropriate in the eyes of many, many families to live together, but now lots of kids are talking about that and doing it. When I say kids, I mean, as young 20-somethings,” Debbie said.

“I heard a great phrase. It was from a psychologist or psychiatrist . . . [who] said, ‘When you cohabitate, you’re sliding, not deciding,'” Dave said.

According to Psychology Today:

  • Millennials are more likely (72 percent) to endorse cohabitation prior to marriage than the older generation (36 percent).
  • Those identifying as liberal (86 percent) are more likely to endorse cohabitation prior to marriage than those identifying as conservative (37 percent).
  • Those who report being practicing Christians are the least likely (41 percent) to endorse cohabiting before marriage.

Dave said he can see the logic in cohabitating before marriage to see if the relationship is a good fit before the big commit.

Beauty in the mundane

“You know what, if you cohabitate, you’re 15% more likely to get divorced. That’s from a Wall Street Journal article that you and I read,” Dave said.

“Dr. Liz, so I have kids who are in their 20s. What advice do I give them?” Debbie asked.

“Sometimes we think it’s about age, right? We’re worried about kids getting married too young,” Dr. Liz said. “Age is not really the concern nearly as much as let’s decide who you’re really dating. Who have you fallen in love with or what kind of person are you looking for, beyond personality and looks?”

Ask yourself, she said, what are the virtues of your prospective marriage partner in terms of fidelity, work ethic, parenting, friendship, support, etc.? 

“What’s interesting is when we live together first, it’s almost like it’s too much experience, especially for women who have cohabited with another partner prior to the one they’re living with now. I don’t know if it gets to be too much comparison or they just get used to breaking up,” Dr. Liz said.

With marriage, she said, there is a beauty in the mundane, such as cooking together, doing dishes or decorating for the holidays.

“Watching Netflix,” Debbie said.

Pre-marriage therapy

“Dr. Hale, I had a younger person tell me this: ‘I just don’t get the point of marriage.’ Can you help me out on that?” Dave asked.

“I am so passionate about marriage therapy because I really think there is healing in the marriage union. You know, we really do become better when we’re together,” she said.

In a marriage, a spouse has to take legal steps to end it, Debbie said, or you are forced to work out your differences.

“When you live with somebody, you just decide one day you’re going to up and move out and game over,” she said.

Dr. Liz said she sadly doesn’t see many engaged couples coming to her for pre-marriage therapy.

“Not nearly to the extent that I’d like to, especially here in Utah,” she said. “. . . . I think we get a little comfortable. We think our love can withstand everything.”

“Pre-marriage therapy, that is genius,” Dave said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Making marriage work with Dr. Liz Hale