Q. A friend of mine attended The Brain Program and later quoted you as saying, "Living together is never a trial marriage." What do you mean?

A. A couple of factors kick in after people sign on the dotted line. The brain stops whole-brained nurturing (unless the individuals chose to continue exhibiting those behaviors). If partners have the same sensory preference, they are more likely to continue to feel loved and nurtured. If their styles differ, they can quickly perceive a lack of nurturing.

Second, partners begin to act-out their subconsciously absorbed expectations for roles. Therefore, depending on the role modeling they received, one or both partners can really change after marriage. This cannot only come as a shock but can influence the longevity of the relationship.

Statistics from the 1989 National Survey of Families and Households found that 40% of couples who live together never marry; and that couples who live together before marriage have a 50% higher rate of divorce or separation than marriage without premarital cohabitation.

So, yes, I believe that living together is only living together and can never constitute a trial marriage. I recommend that couples give themselves higher odds for success by avoiding cohabitation without marriage.