For some couples, living together before getting married just makes sense. It is a way for them to get to know each other, what their living habits might be, and even save money because incomes can be combined. Some statistics on cohabitation are scary as research has found that people who cohabit before marriage are 50% more likely to be divorced.
Research also shows that when people are older when they make their first choice for cohabitation, they have better chances for marital success.
It is true that there is a direct correlation with early cohabitation and divorce. For individuals that are aged 22 or younger, the amount of time they are cohabiting with a partner increases the chances of a divorce. The amount of partners they choose to cohabitate with will also increase the odds that a divorce would happen. This direct correlation ends, however, at the age of 23 – a time when most people decide to begin their career.
Here Are 3 Fast Facts About Cohabitation
1. If an 18 year old chose to wait until the age of 23 to either get married or commit to cohabitation, then they would cut their changes of a divorce in half.
2. Over the past five decades, cohabitation has increased by almost 900%.
3. In 2012, census information shows that there were 7.8 million couples that were living together in the US without getting married, which was more than 5 million couples than 1996 data showed.
Takeaway: Cohabitation seems to make sense, especially when people grow older. It can cost a lot of money to get married, even if you don’t throw the big party. That’s money that couples just don’t have in a struggling economy. If you’re serious about a relationship and you’re not sure that marriage is the right choice, then cohabitation can eliminate paying two rents, two sets of utilities, and other plural costs that non-cohabitation couples pay. In the long run, that means money and time are eventually saved while couples can spend more time together. It’s a seemingly win/win situation – even if someone ends up having to move out.
Is Cohabitation Toxic For Marriage?
1. A 2007 survey showed that only 27% Americans disapproved of cohabitation before marriage.
2. For couples that were married in 2012, more than 67% of them spent at least two years together in cohabitation before taking their vows.
3. On average, when encompassing data from over 4 decades of study on cohabitation, it is estimated that those who get married face a 33% greater risk of divorce than couples who choose alternative living arrangements.
4. More than 60% of Americans see cohabitation as one of the first steps toward marriage instead of an alternative to it.
5. 1 out of every 5 women who commit to cohabitation for the first time become pregnant within the first 12 months of their decision.
6. 65% of couples who get married every year live together at some point before the marriage occurs.
7. 55% of couples who commit to cohabitation first get married within 5 years of moving in together compared to the 40% who break up within that time period. Only 5% of couples continue cohabitation instead of marriage or break-up.
Takeaway: As with anything that involves people, much of what happens during cohabitation is up to the individuals involved. It is clear that a majority of people see cohabitation as one of the steps toward getting married. Although a minority sees it as a negative and justifies their position because of the higher average divorce rates, it is notable that divorces of couples who choose to cohabitate are ultimately about equal to couples who choose not to do so. Although a divorce may be more likely on average, the results are pretty clear – people break up whether they choose to live together first or not at the same overall rates.
Why Is Modern Data On Cohabitation Different?
1. Most early data compared marriage and divorce rates on cohabitation based on when the marriage happened, not when couples chose to begin cohabitation.
2. More than 50% of women today between 19-44 have committed to cohabitation at least once, more than three times the amount of women than when studies first began on the subject, yet divorce rates have remained static over the same time period of time.
3. People who choose cohabitation are more likely to come from a home that experienced at least one divorce, which automatically puts them into a higher risk category.
4. When controls are put into place to account for variables, the increased risks of divorce for cohabitation are almost equal to couples who don’t choose to cohabitate first.
5. Nearly 900k couples in the US who are cohabiting are aged 50 or older and 90% of them have either been widowed, divorced, or separated.
6. One of the primary reasons why people are against cohabitation is because of religious preferences, which can also skew the research data that is collected.
7. All studies show that there is no benefit to cohabitation in reducing divorce rates or encouraging long-term marriages.
Takeaway: The results of modern data are pretty clear in that most couples are either going to choose to stay together or choose to separate whether they choose cohabitation first or not. The issue isn’t one of living together first, but one of compatibility. It could even be said that the divorce rates are lower simply because more couples are choosing cohabitation before marriage, only to discover that their partner is incompatible. With that being said, cohabitation clearly brings with it some risks, especially for women who make the choice for the first time. With high pregnancy rates, the one fault of cohabitation is that it creates a place for parental responsibility to occur when it may not be wanted at that time.
What Does The Negative Data On Cohabitation Say?
1. According to some research, up to 85% of the couples that commit to cohabitation will either break-up or divorce by the end of 10 years.
2. Women who choose cohabitation before marriage are more likely to suffer from domestic abuse and suffer from mental health concerns.
3. Both men and women who commit to cohabitation first are more likely to cheat on each other than married couples.
4. Only 1 in every 2 couples that commit to cohabitation for the first time choose to ever get married.
5. It is only in the United States and UK where couples who choose cohabitation first have higher risks of divorce.
6. 28% of women who commit to a first-time cohabitation will no longer be with their partners within 3 years.
7. By the time a woman reaches the age of 30, 75% of them will have lived with a least one man for an extended period of time.
8. Second cohabitation choices have lower chances of success that are equal to the lower chances of success of a second marriage.
9. Up to 39% of cohabitation couples will separate/divorce in the US after marriage, compared to 32% of total overall marriages in the country.
10. There are two divorces registered every minute in the United States.
Takeaway: Much of the negative data on cohabitation is brought about to justify a religious position against the practice. The only problem is that Christians, who in the US are the primary opponent of cohabitation, must glean Biblical support from passages that forbid sexual encounters before marriage. Is the act of living together by itself a form of sexual contact or the appearance of impropriety? That is the question that religious couples must ask themselves. The data seems to support that couples should be asking themselves these questions, but then how does this account for lower divorce rates in countries like France and Germany for those who choose cohabitation? It must then lie with the couple and their own morality and beliefs and not what is legislated or dictated to them by others.
What Could Eliminate The Risks for Divorce?
1. For couples that choose cohabitation first and then end up getting married, there is no greater risk of divorce than a couple who chooses to get married before living together.
2. In the United States, if a couple who has chosen cohabitation first takes premarital education classes before marriage, the higher risks of divorce are removed.
3. 72% of women who chose cohabitation first were either married or still with their partner after 3 years, which is a higher percentage than those who chose marriage first.
4. Women with higher levels of income and/or education are more likely to transition from cohabitation to marriage at some point in the relationship.
5. For women that have children and have committed to cohabitation, the primary barrier to marriage that is faced is monetary in origin.
6. When race is used as a screening factor, only Asian women as a demographic saw declines in the amount of people who chose cohabitation first.
7. Hispanic women that were born in the US are the most likely demographic to choose cohabitation first with 65% of the population choosing to do so before the age of 25.
Takeaway: Because there are some demographics that see lower levels of divorce when cohabitation is present in a relationship, there must be some level of good that comes from it. Whether it is called a “trial marriage” or it is just a way to save money, the fact remains that for all women, the break-up rate is less than 30% after three years. For some demographics, that is comparable to the break-up rate of engaged couples. The one variable that does make a difference, however, is children. Because women with children face a monetary barrier to marriage and about 20% of women who chose cohabitation become pregnant within the first year of doing so, these current statistics could alter within the next decade in a negative way.
Hoe Long Do People Commit To Cohabitation?
1. Cohabitation amongst women under the age of 20 lasted longer on average than for women above the age of 20.
2. Hispanic women who choose cohabitation for the first time have the longest average relationships of any other demographic at 33 months. In comparison, Caucasian women lasted just 19 months with their first cohabitation.
3. More white and Hispanic women transitioned their cohabitation into a marriage when compared to other demographics.
4. Although couples who have a high school diploma or less are more likely to choose cohabitation, those with a 4 year college degree had a greater than 50% chance of being married within 3 years.
5. Couples who have attended college, but do not have a college degree, are the most likely to dissolve their relationship.
6. On average, for all couples who choose cohabitation, 3 out of every 4 in every demographic between the ages of 22-44 remained intact after 3 years.
7. More cohabiting relationships are continuing for longer, even when they don’t lead to marriage, which ultimately creates more family stability.
8. The most common trait for a successful marriage for both men and women is the existence of a Bachelor’s degree.
9. 3 out of 4 third marriages or choices for cohabitation end in a separation/divorce.
Takeaway: In many ways, the new normal really is the choice for cohabitation before anything else. There is less pressure involved on all parties in such a way and it serves as both an alternative to marriage or a stepping stone toward it. Taking the conversations of sexual compatibility and finding soul mates and setting them aside, because divorce/separation rates are higher than break-up rates in many demographics, one could say that cohabitation provides a lower risk of separation than even marriage, despite the lack of “personal responsibility” some may see with it. Where the data is crystal clear is in the fact that the first choice for marriage or cohabitation is often the best choice.
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