Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a marriage survey last year in which they interviewed 22,000 men and women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four. Forty percent of those interviewed in the study were married. In their study, researchers found that the growing trend of living together before marriage no longer plays a role in predicting divorce as it has in the past.
The trend of living together before marriage is so common – approximately sixty percent of couples live together before they marry – that “it’s not surprising it no longer negatively affects marital stability,” stated Wendy Manning, the co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.
CDC researchers found those couples who were engaged and living together before they married were just as likely to have marriages that lasted fifteen years as those couples who did not live together. Researchers also found those women who either lived together and were engaged or who did not live with their future spouse before the wedding had a sixty percent chance of their marriage surviving for at least fifteen years.
However, the study did reveal the marriages of those couples who lived together but were not engaged were less likely to survive to the ten-to-fifteen-year mark.
The explanations for these findings could be more lax attitudes concerning commitment, lower education levels or family histories that may have created pessimism about marriage in these couples.
One professor of Human Development and Family Science at Oregon State University, Richard Setterson, Jr., said cohabitating before marriage is different for each individual. Those living as a couple may see the experience “as a trial marriage, usually without kids, that often ends in marriage.” However, there are those people who put off marriage because they are pursuing an education or have just started a new career or who just move from “one living-together relationship to another.”
This study by the CDC did report one statistic than many other studies have recently reported – nearly half of all first marriages in this country will end in divorce within twenty years.