Such evidence suggests that differences in why people are cohabiting may be driving some of the associations between cohabitation and poorer relationship outcomes.
The Inertia Effect Cohabitation is recognized as a strong predictor of marriage, in part because of the (Stanley, Rhoades, & Markman, 2006).
Others cite that cohabitation makes financial sense (18.5 percent), that they want to test out the relationship (14.3 percent), or that they don’t believe in the institute of marriage (6 percent).
Compared to married couples, cohabiting couples argue more, have more trouble resolving conflicts, are more insecure about their partners’ feelings, and have more problems related to their future goals (Hsueh, Rhabar, Morrison, & Doss, 2009). Turns out, unmarried couples have very different motivations for living together.
These findings are concerning for couples considering pre-marital cohabitation, but a closer look shows a much more complicated picture. For most people (61.2 percent), the number one reason to cohabitate is quite positive: they want to spend more time with the person they’re dating (Rhoades, Stanley, & Markman, 2009a).
A survey of over 12,000 heterosexual women aged 15-44 between 20 showed that approximately half (48 percent) of women cohabitate prior to their first marriage (Copen, Daniels, & Mosher, 2013). In addition to frequency, the average cohabitation duration has increased.
These days, the typical length of cohabitation has grown from 13 months in 1995 to an average of 22 months.
The couples with the least happiness and satisfaction were the reported the least relationship conflict, not surprising since they also reported a high degree of relationship satisfaction (Willoughby et al., 2012).
In Sum So, in sum, what do we know about cohabitation? As in most cases, the answer depends on the couple, but evidence points to a few patterns.
Religious views aside, what can relationship science tell us about the pros and cons of pre-marital cohabitation? Cohabitation (i.e., living together in a sexual relationship before marriage) is an increasingly common trend in United States.
Today, most heterosexual couples live together before marriage.
Substantial evidence associates cohabitation with negative relationship outcomes.
Pre-marital cohabitation is viewed as a risk factor for divorce as it predicts later marital instability, poorer marriage quality, and less relationship satisfaction (Kamp, Dush, Cohan, & Amato, 2003; Stanley et al., 2004).
Tracking cohabitating couples revealed that three years out, 32 percent were still cohabiting, 40 percent had transitioned to marriage, and 27 percent had dissolved (Copen et al., 2013).