Cohabitation Before Marriage Not Linked To Divorce

March 31, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a marriage survey and found that living together before getting married is not necessarily a factor of poor chances for a successful and happy matrimonial unit later.

There used to be a common belief that cohabitation before tying the knot is associated with extra risk of divorce, but now the government experts say that this is not a case anymore. According to their research findings, almost 50 per cent of first marriages break up within 15 or 20 years, and that engaged individuals living together before marriage have now the equal chances of staying married for the same period of time with those who start sharing a home after their wedding.

In their survey, the experts looked for trends only in first marriages. They interviewed men and women with the ages between 15 and 44 years from 2006 to 2010. Approximately 40 per cent of the participants reported being married. As to the couples who were living together before their nuptials but were not engaged, it was found that the success of their marriage was less likely to survive even the ten and fifteen-year mark. These findings are similar of those in previous studies on the matter.

According to the new study, for ladies, there was about 60 per cent chance that a marriage would last 15 years if the partners either did not cohabit before the wedding or were engaged while they were living in the same home. However, if there was no firm marriage commitment while a couple was living together, the chance that the marriage would survive fifteen-year mark dropped to 53 per cent. The same numbers applied to men.

The study also revealed that:

  • About 50 per cent of first marriages will not survive 20 years

  • The percentage of young ladies who currently cohabit with a male partner increased from three per cent in 1982 to eleven per cent now.

  • Women and men who had a bachelor's degree were more likely to put off marriage but also more likely to eventually get married and most likely to reach the milestone of 20 years.

  • Asian ladies were the ones who stayed the longest in a first marriage with a survival period of at least twenty years. Almost 70 per cent of Asian women were still married for the first time when compared to 54 per cent of their white counterparts, 53 per cent of Hispanics and 37 per cent of black females.

  • Among male individuals, 62 per cent of Hispanic men were still in their first marriage at 20 years when compared to 54 per cent of white men and 53 per cent of black men. The statistics for Asian guys was not available.

Cohabitation before marriage has been a steady and increasing growing trend. In the late 60s, only about 10 per cent of couples in the United States started living together before wedding, and eventually they were more likely to end up with higher divorce rates. Nowadays, nearly 60 per cent of couples move in together before they first get married.

According to Richard Settersten Jr., professor of human development and family science at the Oregon State University, the experience of moving in together before marriage is not the same for all people. Some young couples delay marriage because they are in pursuit of a college education as well as starting a career. For this type of individuals, living together is like a trial marriage that usually does not involve children and which often leads to marriage. Other people, mostly those that are not on a track of education or career, move from one living-together relationship to another, some of them with kids, Settersten concluded.

Tags: Marriage

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