Cohabitation: Better for Society

1 To start off, I would like to debunk the myth that cohabitation contributes to divorce. 

Ariel Kuperberg, sociologist at UNC-Greensboro conducted a recent study she titled, “Does Premarital Cohabitation Increase Your Risk for Divorce?”

Her new research shows that previous studies have overstated the divorce risk from premarital cohabitation because they ignored how old the partners were when moving in together. The study concluded that age is more important factor in whether or not a marriage will last, than whether or not they took out a marriage license.

She reports that on average, cohabitators move in earlier than marrying couples. However, “When couples are compared by the age at which they move in together and start taking on the roles of marriage, there is no difference in divorce rates between couples that lived together before marriage and those that didn’t.”

Turns out – cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce and probably never did.

What does? Moving in together with or without a marriage license before one is mature enough and has gained enough experience to choose compatible partners and conduct themselves in a manner conducive to sustaining a long-term relationship. Early entry into marriage or cohabitation is the critical risk factor for divorce.

Sociologists Wendy Manning and Jessica Cohen from the University of North Caroline found that for some women with a higher than average risk of divorce, such as those with a premarital birth, those raised in single or step-parent families, as well as those with more than the median number of sexual partners, living together while engaged was actually more protective against divorce than moving directly into marriage.

2 Cohabitation is easier than marriage.

Psychologist Kamp Dush in a university release said, “At one time, marriage may have been seen as the only way for young couples to get the social support and companionship that is important for emotional health. – It’s not that way anymore. We’re finding that marriage isn’t necessary to reap the benefits of living together, at least when it comes to emotional health.

3 It’s safer than marriage.

Sharon Sassler, an associate professor at Cornell University studies people’s attitudes toward marriage and divorce. She found that people worry largely about emotional turmoil from a failed marriage. They then ask themselves if the benefits of marriage are really worth the potential psychological and financial pain of a divorce. The legal and financial stickiness of divorce is considered a “hassle” enough that many shy away from marriage altogether.

4 There is no shame in cohabitating.

The only other reason one might avoid cohabitation is the older generation’s idea that it is morally unacceptable.

But you do not need to be ashamed of living together as social stigmas of the past would suggest!

The national institute of Child Health and Human Development stated that cohabitation, once rare, is now the norm, while the Council on Contemporary Families stated that in the last 50 years, cohabitation has increased by over 900%.

For these reasons, not only do we encourage cohabitation amongst the young adults of today’s society – we condone it for those seeking to better their relationships and increase closeness with their partner as part of a comfortable lifestyle.

For the record, I do not actually condone cohabitation, as current data and my own moral conscience would suggest marriage is a better option.


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