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Premarital Cohabitation Effect

In today's society a lot of young adults are increasingly following the popular relationship path where they date, cohabit awhile, then (maybe) get married; cohabitation is now the new “normal”.

The Census Bureau reports that the percentage of cohabiting adults ages 25 to 34 increased from 12% a decade ago to 15% in 2018, while the percentage of 25 to 34 year olds who are married continues to decline.

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that the “premarital cohabitation effect” very much lives on, despite the increasing number of people we hear about getting married, let alone the number of weddings we see on social media. The premarital cohabitation effect is the finding that those who live together prior to marriage are more likely, not less, to struggle in marriage. It has a long and storied history in family science.

Sharp declines in both first marriage rates and rates of remarriage have been largely offset by an increasing number of couples opting for cohabitation. The increase in the proportion of unmarried young people is not to be misunderstood as an increase in "singlehood" but should be regarded as young people are setting up home with partners with the view of 'not rushing' and wanting to 'test the waters'. While most cohabiters expect to marry their partner, there is a substantial number who disagree about marriage, and a high proportion who are concerned about the stability of their relationship. Thus the picture that is emerging is that cohabitation is very much a family status, but one in which levels of certainty about the relationship are lower than in marriage.

Spending more time together and convenience were the most strongly endorsed reasons for the increase in the premarital cohabitation. The degree to which individuals reported cohabiting to test their relationships was associated with more negative couple communication and more physical aggression as well as lower relationship adjustment, confidence, and dedication. It has also been reported that cohabiting is testing to a relationship and is associated with higher levels of attachment insecurity and more symptoms of depression and anxiety. Men were more likely than women to endorse testing their relationships and less likely to endorse convenience as a reason for cohabiting.

Whether you choose to cohabit or marry your partner, make sure you put yourself first. In this blog we have discussed cohabitation but marriage also has its ups and downs, we are not saying you should or shouldn't cohabit, we are just saying that regardless of your choice in life, ultimately your happiness and well-being should come first.

If you or someone you know is having issues dealing with anything we have discussed, please contact us at and a member of our team will be happy to speak with you.

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