As an engaged woman, I usually steer clear of the ugly divorce statistics in the U.S. After all, I don't feel comfortable having statistics predict my likelihood of divorce the way an insurance salesman calculates the likelihood of car accidents among new drivers. Too cold!
I have also never believed in the long-held claim that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced than couples who waited until marriage to combine households, especially because I've been living with my now-fiancé for a good four years.
Studies that delivered this depressing statistic were done in the 1960s. Times have definitely changed, people! Back then, only 10% of couples who got married lived together first, compared with a whopping 60% of couples today. Not surprisingly, new research from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention backs me up and backs up marriage (hooray!) A recent survey of 22,000 men and women between 2006-2010 found that couples who were engaged and living together before the wedding were about as likely to have marriages that lasted 15 years as couples who hadn't lived together.
"It's becoming so common, it's not surprising it no longer negatively affects marital stability," said Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
On the flip side, men and women who were not engaged while cohabitating had a smaller chance of making it to the 15-year mark: About 53% make it, versus 60% of those who were engaged. Casey Copen, lead author of the study, had a few speculations on why this might be the case. Copen said that numerous factors such as lax attitudes about commitment, lower education levels or family histories might have made some couples more pessimistic about marriage.
The study also found that education plays a large role in the longevity of marriage — while women and men with bachelor's degrees were more likely to delay marriage, they were also more likely to stay married for at least 20 years.
What do you think about cohabitating before marriage?
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