Effects of Cohabitation
Prepared by Brandon Wall
Heart to Heart Communication, LC
First Posted March 21, 2011
- Since 1970 the rate of living together outside of marriage has increased more than 6 fold, from 1.1% to 7.4% of couples in 1999 (Smith, 2006).
- 61% of people married in the 5 years prior to the survey had cohabited pre-martially, whereas the rate was only 13% for those married 20 to 31 years earlier (Stanley, Whitton, and Markman, 2004).
- Currently over a third of adults in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties cohabited before their first marriage and half of this age group has cohabited at some point in their lives (Smith, 2006).
- Among those 25-44 who are in a second marriage, 61% cohabited with their new spouse before marriage (Smith, 2006; General Social Survey 1994).
- Cohabitation is usually a short-term arrangement, typically resulting in either marriage or a break-up after about a year (median duration of 1.3 years) (Smith, 2006; Thomson and Colella, 1992; Bumpass and Sweet, 1989).
- Cohabitation has often been characterized as a trial marriage and about 40% lead to marriage within two years and about 60% eventually culminate in marriage between the cohabiting partners (Smith, 2006; Bumpass and Sweet, 1989).
- Marriages formed after cohabitation are rated as less stable and result in more divorces than marriages not preceded by living together (Smith, 2006; Axinn and Thornton, 1992; Brown and Booth, 1996).
- Those who are cohabiting have fewer sexual partners than those who are unmarried and not cohabitating (Smith, 2006).
- However, people who are cohabitating have more sexual partners than married couples (Smith, 2006; Waite and Joyner, 1996).
- Infidelity during marriage is more common among people who lived together prior to marriage than those who did not. (Smith, 2006; Forste and Tanfer 1996).
- Cohabiting men are four times as likely as husbands to report infidelity in the past year. (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994; McManus and McManus, 2008).
- Cohabiting women are eight times more likely than wives to cheat on their partners (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994; McManus and McManus, 2008).
- People who lived together before marriage have a higher rate of divorce than those who did not live together (Kamp Dush, Cohan, & Amato, 2003).
- People who lived together before marriage report that it is more likely they will divorce than people who did not live together (Thomson and Colella, 1992).
- People who lived together before marriage have more negative communication in their marriages than those who did not live together (Cohan & Kleinbaum, 2002; DeMaris & Leslie, 1984).
- People who lived together before marriage have lower levels of marital satisfaction than those who did not live together (DeMaris & Leslie, 1984)
- Higher levels of conflict (Thomson & Colella, 1992).
- Physical aggression is more common among married individuals who lived together before marriage than those who did not (Stets & Straus, 1989)
- 60% of those who had cohabited before marriage were more verbally aggressive, less supportive of one another, and more hostile than the 40 % of spouses who had not lived together (Cohan, Kleinbaum, 2002)
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