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Pre-Marital CohabitationIt hasn’t changed overnight, but the evidence is now wide spread. The contrast and make-up of the modern family has vastly changed in the last 50 years. The modern relationship make-up has also vastly changed. Many factors can contribute to this change in structure. From the economy to careers, we are seeing more relationships between men and women extend a longer period of time before they decide to marry. Cohabitation has been on the rise since the 1980’s. Many thought this was a sign that it could deeply hurt the institution of marriage in this country. While that turned out to be false there are individual reasons why people are cohabitating before marriage and reasons why people are still getting married. How does this affect their relationship? Is one clearly a better path then the other?


Affects of Cohabitation

A recent government study determined that nearly half of marriages break up within the first 20 years. A statistic that is similar to the largely popular sentiment that half of all marriages will not last. Knowing those odds along with that popularly spoken marriage statistic, some people have taken to cohabitation before they decide to marry. For younger people this has become increasingly more common to the point where it is almost part of the process leading up to marriage. No longer thought of as taboo, cohabitation has become a normal part of the pre-marriage routine. So, does cohabitation have an effect on the future potential of divorce? Apparently not, according to the new study. The new research, made up of a marriage survey that included 22,000 men and women, suggests that living together has not affected the divorce rate either way.

Results of the study

In 1960, only 10% of couples were reported to have lived together before marriage. Today around 60% of couples live together before they marry. Researchers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were looking for trends with couples who were in their first marriage. Interviewing both men and women between ages 15 to 44 from 2006 to 2010, they discovered around 40% were married. Results found from the research showed that couples who were engaged and living together before the wedding have about the same chance of their marriage lasting at least 15 years as couples who hadn’t lived together.

The study also showed that marriage was less likely to survive to the 10-15 year mark among couples who weren’t engaged when they lived together.  Factors thought to explain the increase in cohabitation range from lax attitudes about commitment, lower education levels, previous family history, or just pessimism about marriage.

What can we take away from this study? It seems that the more common cohabitation becomes, the less affect it has, negatively or positively, on the outcome of a marriage. There are so many other factors that go into a successful relationship, and living together before marriage is not considered to be the top of the list. Although it can be a good experiment in how you and your potential spouse would react to living under the same roof, there are other more intricate factors that could be more prominent in predicting divorce. The fact is the divorce process is here to stay. It has woven its way into the fabric of our society, and while we all strive for a happy relationship, it has become perfectly normal and acceptable to realize a mistake and want to change.

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