top of page
  • natashaentrup

The "Co-Habit"

Cohabitation was never the norm… until about 50 years ago. By the 1970s, about 0.2% of couples lived together before marriage (Gurrentz 2018). Before this, couples rarely cohabited. In fact, there were specific laws in place preventing, or discouraging couples from doing so.

Today, it is more common to have cohabited than to have been married. In 2002, 54% of individuals had claimed to cohabit at least once, and 60% had been married. By 2017, the majority of individuals (59%) had cohabitated, whereas only 50% had been married (Pew Research Center).

The concept is no longer novel- it is widely practiced.

Cohabitation has been shown to decrease the risk of divorce within the first year of marriage (Institute for Family Studies). This benefit has been attributed to a lesser adjustment after marriage (not moving in together for the first time). After hitting the one-year mark, however, the risk for divorce actually increases. While there are many theories as to why this trend occurs, some believe that cohabitation increases the acceptability of divorce as it may create a habit to exit close relationships.

Couples who marry before living together mark higher levels of trust and satisfaction within their marriage than those who cohabit. They are more likely to believe that their partner has their best interest at heart and will be more honest in difficult situations. The commitment associated with marriage without prior experience living together actually increases general satisfaction within the marriage.

It seems that “test driving” the relationship by living together premaritally may just depreciate the value of the vehicle (marriage).

Finances are also a major factor in the decision to cohabit. Whereas only about 10% of married individuals attribute finances as a reason to marry, nearly 40% of cohabiting couples named finances as a reason to live with a partner (Pew Research Center). While fiscally wise, the decision is never relationally beneficial.

In the aforementioned study, love was the dominating factor in the decision to cohabit (73%) as well as in the decision to marry (90%). Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, choosing to live with a partner before marriage may do more harm than good. While 2 people may love and hope to marry one another, cohabitation may damage the relationship in the long run. It can be scary to commit to someone without “testing the waters.” However, it may be the best decision made in a relationship.

Maybe, what young women (and men) really want is commitment- to be chosen without being “test driven”. While relationships in Western Civilization tend to value compatibility above many other factors in a relationship, the winning traits seem to be trust, fidelity, and devotion. Love is a choice, and while it is important to know who you are marrying, the most vital component to a happy and functional marriage is the active choice to love.

Sources Cited:

Gurrentz, B. (2018). Cohabitation is Down for Young Adults.

Rosenfeld, M. J., & Roesler, K. (2019). Cohabitation experience and cohabitation's association with marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 81, 42– 58

61 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page