The Effect of Cohabitation on Marriage

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Abstract The Effect of Cohabitation on Marriage Several published studies look at the increase in premarital cohabitation and the effect of premarital cohabitation on the traditional marriage relationship from the 1960s to present. Issues considered are marital satisfaction, marital stability, marital communication, and incidents of divorce within each group. Contrary to common perceptions, studies on couples who cohabitated prior to marrying indicate marriages that are less satisfactory, less stable, report poorer communication and higher incidents of divorce when compared to couples who did not cohabitate prior to marriage. Factors that attempt to explain these results are explored. The Effect of Cohabitation on Marriage Finding a compatible partner and getting married is the dream for the majority of people in America. Statistics show that approximately 95% of all people will be married at some point in their lives (Cherlin, 2002). However, marriage is coming to be considered more of a short-term and an economic arrangement by many and less of a life-time commitment (Risch, Riley & Lawler, 2003; Seltzer, 2000). It is true that divorce is becoming less stigmatized and is a more frequent event with a current divorce rate of approximately 40% for first marriages (Risch, Riley & Lawler, 2003). It is also true that cohabitation is becoming a more common and accepted way to live. It is estimated that between 50% and 60% of all people will live together before marrying (Cherlin, 2002, Seltzer, 2000; Teachman, 2003). Cohabitation is defined as the sharing of a household by unmarried persons who have a sexual relationship (Cherlin, 2002). Many couples make the decision to cohabitate in order to see if they are compatible and ... ... middle of paper ... ...: Quality or commitment? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54: 159-267. Treas, J. & Giesen, D. (2000). Sexual infidelity among married and cohabiting Americans. Journal of Marriage & the Family, Vol. 62, 48-60. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2000). Statistical abstract of the United States: 2000. Washington, CD: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved on March 14, 2004, from http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/p20-537.pdf Watson, R. E. L. (1983). Premarital cohabitation vs. traditional courtship: Their effects on subsequent marital adjustment. Family Relations. 32, 139-147. Wineberg, H. (1994). Marital reconciliation in the United States: Which couples are successful? Journal of Marriage & the Family, Vol. 56, 80-88. Wu, Z. (1999). Premarital cohabitation and the timing of first marriage. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 36, 109-127.
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