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Stats on Cohabitation Make Case For Ignoring Them

Yesterday, the New York Times featured an article about changing marriage norms. It highlights a new study that concludes: "The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first." But then it says: "If both partners are college graduates, the chances improve that they will marry and that their marriage will last at least 10 years" even if they cohabitated. Wait I'm confused.

Looking into how cohabitation impacts marriage and divorce rates is a popular research topic. But if you pay attention you see so many factors (like a college degree) impact your statistical chance of marital bliss — if that's what you want of course. The same Times article points out that your chances for staying married a decade improve if you marry after age 26, or if you have a baby eight or more months after your wedding.

So instead of using other people's experiences and statistical computing to make life decisions, I think we're all cool with doing what feels right for us. If you don't feel comfortable living together before making a lifelong commitment, don't do it. If you want to find out more about your compatibility when it comes to finances, gender roles in the home, and overall lifestyle habits before you get married, then go ahead and move in. Being honest about your needs and communicating them to your partner is one way to make a relationship, wedding or not, healthier. Academics can now go back to exploring something else.

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Join The Conversation
smileylo smileylo 7 years
my boyfriend and i have been living together for 2 years now, it has gotten us much closer in our relationship. we moved in together about 6 months into our relationshp and it's been the best decision! I can't imagine a future without him and he feels the same.
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
Wait, so you're saying high school sweetheart or those that marry solely because they have one on the way are not likely to stay together? What an interesting thought! These statistics are always a little weird to me, because in Germany NO ONE gets married before cohabitation. Usually you date for a few years, live together a couple more, get engaged and then get married. And no one would talk about how you're selling yourself short to the guy or something. And it's also very okay to have kids before being married (although most kids are born into 'wedlock').
skigurl skigurl 7 years
the day before we signed the deal for our house, i asked my boyfriend (and i was pretty sure of the answer but wanted a point blank response): do you want to get married? and he said YES, and that was all i needed to know i could move in with him and still eventually make a commitment and get married and be together for life. for us, it was always pretty open - we both believe in marriage and want kids sooner than later, and we love living together and we work very very well together, so i am not too concerned about all those weird factors that play into these stats our parents both have good marriages, we are both educated, money is not a problem for us, and we are very much in love and compatible in every way, so we're just going to stay positive!!
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Tres, why did you forgot to mention the most important factor in the study? They found a statistical difference in divorce rate depending on whether or not the couple was engaged before living together or not, with less divorces in the already engaged group. I think that is a very important fact to mention. If people move in committed to each other with a plan for marriage, they are more likely to stay together long term. The ones that just do it for a test run have less success, according to this study. Yes, you're right, people need to do what feels right for them. But, for a woman to move in with a guy thinking that it is the next step on the road to a ring sets herself up for big disappointment.
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
I wasn't as concerned about how we would "cohabitate", but whated to see what it would be like, when we were around each other 24 hours a day. Would we want to tear each others eyes out, would our lifestyles mesh, could we deal with conflicts, daily life issues. We've been living together for almost 3 years - and will be married in June. Coincidentally, we get along great at home, like we've been together forever & we also travel very well together! I come from a family where my parents argued about everything all the time, at home, and vacations were almost worse! I think it was nothing short of an educational time for us - knowing that we were compatible, and seeing if that compatibility worked at the next level... lucky for us, it did!
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