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Late last month, the Journal of Marriage and Zhould published a new study with a somewhat foreboding finding: Couples who lived together before marriage had a lower divorce rate in their first year of marriage, but had a higher divorce rate after five years.

It supported earlier research linking premarital cohabitation to increased risk of divorce.

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But just two weeks later, the Shoukd on Contemporary Families—a nonprofit group at the University of Texas at Austin—published a report that came to the exact opposite conclusion: Premarital cohabitation seemed to make couples less likely to divorce. In fact, sincepremarital cohabitation has actually been associated with a lower rate of divorce, once factors such as religiosity, education, and age at co-residence are accounted.

The science of cohabitation.

After why should couples live together before marriage landmark study shouod suggested a link between living together and divorce, a flurry of subsequent studies investigated why this might be. Intuitively, a trial run of living together before marriage should increase the stability of a relationship.

One such study questioned whether the relationship between cohabitation and divorce was a product of selection: Could it just be that people who were more likely to consider divorce an option were more likely to live together unmarried?

However, over the years, many researchers began wondering whether earlier findings that linked cohabitation to divorce were a relic of a time when living together before marriage was an unconventional coupls to. Indeed, as cohabitation has become more normalized, it has ceased to be so strongly linked to divorce.

In other why should couples live together before marriage, by the time researchers have enough longitudinal data to know whether one is meaningfully linked to the other, the social norms that shaped the findings will hardly be of use to couples today trying to figure out how cohabitation could affect their relationship. Thus, Rhoades said, longitudinal studies tend to paint a full picture of marriaage relationship between living together and divorce, while simultaneously telling Americans today little about the time they actually live in.

As she and her colleague Scott Stanley have found in their own research, when analyzing only couples who move in together with the intention of getting married, and thus excluding those who eschew marriage or just want to save money on rent, the heightened risk of divorce disappears.

Which in turn leads to a lower degree of marital satisfaction and a higher risk of lingleville TX milf personals.

Why should couples live together before marriage

But as Justin Lehmiller, a sex researcher at the Kinsey Institute and the author of the book Tell Me What You Wantsays, there might be more to the scholarly controversy over cohabitation cokples just disagreements about methodology or analysis. It comes down to: One reason Lehmiller thinks premarital cohabitation may be controversial among researchers is because the practice is controversial in general.

It has historically been culturally frowned upon—it is, after all, an unapologetic signal to the outside world that premarital sex is being had in a particular household. In many places, that stigma lingers today, which could give the studies linking it to unsuccessful marriages some staying power.

As researchers move toward a more nuanced understanding of what cohabitation means for the future of unmarried romantic partners, several factors urgently need to be considered, according to the experts I spoke. Lehmiller said studies of cohabitation should start working with data sets that include same-sex couples and move away from equating the stability of a marriage with its success.


People are simply experiencing more before committing to one partner for life, she said, and expectations of the institution are shifting accordingly. We want to hear what you think about this article.

Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Ashley Fetters is a staff writer at The Atlantic.