Much to traditionalists’ disdain, the number of couples who live together before marriage has increased by nearly 900 percent over the last 50 years, and two-thirds of couples who get married today share a home for at least two years before walking down the aisle, according to The Atlantic. In 1960, roughly 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Today, that number has skyrocketed to more than 7 million, reported The New York Times.
Some of the top reasons for moving in together before marriage include saving money on living expenses, the convenience of not having to travel to see each other, and, of course, a way to “test out” the relationship before fully committing. Some people also view cohabitation as a substitute for getting married, rather than a step toward marriage, though 75 percent of cohabiters say they plan to marry their partners eventually, reported by www.unmarried.org.
The rise of cohabitation has led to dozens of studies that seek to measure the effects of shacking up before walking down the aisle on satisfaction levels and divorce rates.
Are There Consequences of Cohabitation Before Marriage?
For years, studies have shown (a surprise to many millennials) that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced and have other negative reverberations.
The nonpartisan National Marriage Project conducted a survey that indicated living together before marriage increases the risk of breaking up after marriage. A survey from the University of Denver found in questioning 1,050 couples that 19 percent of those who cohabitated before getting engaged have talked about divorce, compared with 10 percent for those who didn’t cohabitate – though communicating about divorce is hardly a resolute marker for satisfaction. On average, researchers found that couples who lived together before marriage had more than a 30 percent greater chance of divorcing than those who waited to move in – when the couples’ age wasn’t a factor.
The Even Bigger Factor
However, new research “turns conventional wisdom on its head” in regards to cohabitation and divorce rates, according to The Huffington Post.
New research from the Council on Contemporary Families points out that the age when people decide to make a big commitment, whether it be marriage or cohabitation, is the largest indicator for long-term happiness. No longer is the focus on if a couple “tests out” the marriage before committing as an indicator for “happily ever after.” The older a couple is when they make their first big step, the higher their chance of marital success.
Arielle Kuperburg, an associate professor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, also found that the age when a couple chooses to live together is more important than their marital status.
“For decades research has shown that cohabitation leads to divorce, and for the first time we can definitively say that cohabitation doesn’t lead to divorce and never did — that those earlier findings were a result of an incorrect measurement,” she said.
Whether you cozy up before you get married or wait until the big day, the choice is up to you and your significant other and what feels right – no matter what any study says.