Till cohabitation do us part

July 17, 2009

A new study has some grim news for the majority of unmarried couples in the United States. According to researchers at the University of Denver, couples who live together before marrying have a higher chance of divorcing than those who wait to be married or engaged. The research team estimates that at least 70 percent of couples in the U.S. live together before marriage.

It has previously been thought that living together can be a good test run for marriage; however, another study conducted by the same team found that living together solely for this reason leads to the most problems. Lead author of the study, Galena Rhoades, explains why:

“We think that some couples who move in together without a clear commitment to marriage may wind up sliding into marriage partly because they are already cohabitating.”

The researchers conducted telephone surveys of more than 1,000 married men and women between ages 18 and 34 who had been married within the past ten years. As part of the survey, the team asked questions about relationship satisfaction, dedication, and divorce potential.

According to the study’s findings, approximately 43% of couples surveyed lived together before getting married or engaged. These couples reported considerably lower relationship satisfaction, dedication, self-confidence, and greater divorce potential than those who waited to cohabitate until they were engaged (16.4%) or married (40.5%).

This study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. Rhoades’ study examining the reasons couples decide to move-in together can be found in the February issue of the Journal of Family Issues.


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