Living Together Before Marriage Doesn't Foretell Divorce

Discover how a new survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how cohabitation before marriage is not an indicator of divorce. Read this and other findings from the survey.

By Josh D. Simon
Updated: July 17, 2014
divorce news

Couples who worry that shacking up before marriage might send them "directly to divorce without passing GO" can breathe a bit easier, now that a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that it's really not that big of a deal, after all.

The report, which was released on March 22, surveyed 12,200 women and 10,400 men between the ages of 15-44. Their responses were then compared to previous surveys - some dating as far back as 1982 (i.e. when home computers were actually as big as a home).

While some of the results weren't all that eye-opening - such as how more couples are living together before marriage, fewer couples in general are getting married, and about 50% of married couples don't make it to their 20-year anniversary (at least not without their divorce lawyers present) - there was one finding that took many by surprise: the one that suggests cohabitation before marriage isn't a predictor of divorce.

That's not to say that the playing field is perfectly level. Couples who opt to say "I do" before sharing an address label are still more likely to stay married for at least 20 years. However, that likelihood isn't all that much higher than cohabitating couples.

Specifically, couples who don't live together before marriage give themselves about a 60% chance of reaching the 20-year mark. Couples who live together before marriage (regardless of whether they were engaged at the time) give themselves about a 45% change of reaching that milestone.

And while in the world of statistics 15% is pretty big, it's not nearly as huge as most people expected or believed. Just don't count Wendy Manning among the shocked.

Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, isn't surprised. Given how popular and socially acceptable living together before marriage has become, "it's not surprising it no longer negatively affects marital stability," she told NPR.

To read the study in its entirety, click here.

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March 26, 2012

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