Here are some interesting tidbits from the Journal of Population Studies about cohabiting couples:
- D.C. has the greatest percentage of unmarried heterosexual partners living together: 13.5% of coupled households.
- Vermont is second with 12%, followed by Maine with 11.9%.
- Utah and Alabama have the smallest percentages: 4.4%.
Those who live together average about two years, generally leading to either marriage or a breakup. Cohabitation research found that within five years of a live-in relationship, about half of couples married, about 40% split up and the rest continued to live together.
As on researcher states, “People want what marriage signifies: that sense of ‘us with a future,’ “But because of the high rates of divorce for the past few decades and many other circumstances, including decreased rates of marriage, there is really a crisis in confidence about the institution of marriage.”
Reasons cited for cohabiting
- Living with someone before marriage as a way to avoid divorce,
- High housing costs and tight budgets often lead young people to live together,
- Seeing little difference between the commitment to live together and the commitment to marriage,
- Wanting to test compatibility or establish financial security before marrying,
- A desire to live as married when same-sex marriages are not legal,
- Cohabitation because it is easier to establish and dissolve.
Current Trends in Cohabitation
In the past, cohabitating was seen as financial unstable. Yet, many of today’s cohabitating couples sometimes combine their earning-powers and purchase a house together. In the past, a cohabitating couple’s relationship may have also been said to be unsound for raising a family. Yet, many of today’s cohabitating couples also have children together.
In the past, these couples were seen as having just a fleeting relationship. Yet, many of today’s couples see themselves as deeply involved but they also view it as less than a full commitment.
Explanations for the Rise in Cohabitation
- Many cohabitating couples had parents who divorced after many years of marriage, thus, by cohabitating they feel they will avoid the mistakes of their parents.
- Many cohabitating couples see themselves as far more independent than previous generations and they no longer depend on a committed partner for financial, physical or emotional needs, or general daily chores such as cooking and cleaning.
- Many cohabitating young people feel they have greater choice, more time to choose a soul mate and less of a need to make a full commitment.
- Many cohabitating couples expect to invest less and receive less from the relationship by selecting a “wait and see” attitude.