Living together, or cohabitating, before marriage, used to be a rare living arrangement in our society with 0.1% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 0.2% of 25- to 34-year-olds living together before marriage in 1968. Today, living together before marriage is often an assumed progression of a serious dating relationship with approximately 15% of people ages 18-34 living together before marriage.
Couples who move in together usually do so as a “trial run” to see if they want to commit to one another in a marriage relationship. In fact, 48% of adults in the US ages 18-65+ say couples who live together before marriage have a better chance of having a successful marriage than those who don’t live together. Despite this common idea, decades of research on subsequent marriage stability still determines that cohabitation before marriage increases rates of divorce.
As your children get older and start dating, it is likely they will have friends who choose to cohabitate or they may have that conversation with their significant other. How could living together before marriage affect your young adult’s life?
Couples who live together before marriage are 50 to 80% more likely to divorce than married couples who did not live together before marriage.
While the divorce rate among couples who lived together before marriage is lower in the first six months of marriage, research indicates that after that first year of marriage, people who cohabitate end up having a higher risk of divorce compared to those who did not live together until marriage
Married individuals make between 10 and 40% more money than their single and cohabitating peers.
As of 2019, the median net worth for cohabiting couples ages 25 to 34 was $17,372–less than a quarter of the $68,210 net worth for married couples of the same age range.
The key to married couples’ financial security may come from the long-term mind-set. Married couples are significantly more likely to plan a future with each other and any possible children in mind. When married couples combine finances, save and invest their pooled money, they are more likely to achieve more long-term financial goals and build wealth. Cohabitating couples are less likely to use their combined incomes to pursue long-term investment and saving goals, often keeping income and investment opportunities separate and individual-oriented.
Commitment & Relationship Satisfaction
Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment. Couples also tend to be less committed in marriage when they live together prior to their wedding.
Research has also found that married couples are more satisfied in their relationships than their cohabitating peers. From sharing household duties, balancing work and personal life to communication, fidelity, trust and financial responsibility, married couples all report higher satisfaction.
Today's Choices Affect Your Tomorrow
When talking to your children about healthy relationships, always remind them of this: Today’s choices affect your tomorrow. While he or she may care for a significant other and desire to live together, remind them of God’s design for marriage and the higher standard of living that will result in a happier and longer lasting marriage. Help them develop boundaries, initiate accountability mentor conversations and honor their significant other.
Need help in this ongoing conversation? The Truth About Living Together Before Marriage booklet can guide your conversation and support your children in their pursuit to live with virtue in healthy relationships.