More women cohabitating before they say ‘I do’

More women cohabitating before they say ‘I do’

Perhaps you can still hear your elders’ repeated lectures about not moving in with your boyfriend until after marriage. But statistics show that more women are moving in with their significant others prior to marriage. And those relationships may last longer, some researchers say.

The “First Premarital Cohabitation in the United States” (pdf) report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed interview data from more than 22,000 women and men ages 15 to 44. The data show that from 2006 to 2010, 48 percent of women were more likely to move in with a man for the first time before nuptials. In 1995, it was only 14 percent.

The study counters decades of prior research by institutions like Yale University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which found the exact opposite: Women who cohabitate before marriage are significantly more likely to end up divorced.

The study’s lead author, Casey E. Copen, PhD, says that generations who were cohabitating less are now being replaced by men and women who find cohabitation to be quite normal. The trend could also lead to healthier relationships.

“Overall, these unions are lasting longer, they’re more stable and the highest proportion of them transition to marriage,” Copen said in a statement.

Of all the women studied, 40 percent who chose to live with their partners did marry in three years or less. About 32 percent stayed together but didn’t marry while 27 percent broke-up.  The report also found that almost 20 percent of women became pregnant within the first year of cohabitation before marriage.

With U.S. divorce rates as high as 40 percent, Dr. Jan Remer-Osborn, PhD, neuropsychologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says these statistics may give a clue as to why things are trending this way.

“What’s most important first and foremost is that people have healthy relationships,” Osborn says. “Perhaps this is an indication that more people want to be sure before they make such a major commitment.”

Osborn says these trends are likely to become even more prevalent in the future.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.