Arielle Kuperberg, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, claims that her findings on premarital cohabitation debunk 30 years of research. Kuperberg believes her study shows that couples who cohabit before marrying are no more likely to divorce than anyone else.
Since the 1960s, there has been a 900 percent global increase in cohabitation. Many people believe that not living together before marriage is a huge mistake. However, there is still no clear evidence that cohabitation helps to create family stability.
It is a huge deal to claim you have debunked decades worth of study with one piece of research.
The University of Denver's Dr. Scott Stanley, and others, have conducted research on this issue for years. In his blog, slidingvsdeciding.com, Stanley breaks down many of the myths surrounding cohabitation and marriage.
“At the heart of it, Kuperberg asserts that scores of researchers have had it wrong for decades, and that maybe there never has been an association between cohabiting and marriage and divorce,” Stanley writes in a recent post. “She asserts that what was misunderstood all these years is that cohabiters are more likely to divorce, not because they cohabited, but because they tended to start living together when they were too young to either be making a wise choice in a mate or to take on the roles of marriage. This logic is akin to the well-replicated, robust finding that marrying young is associated with greater odds of divorce. Given that, why wouldn’t moving in together at a young age also be a problem?”
Kuperberg’s study does not show that living together before marriage decreases divorce. At best, it may show that cohabiting before marriage does not increase the risk of divorce for some couples.
Stanley's blog describes some of the issues with premarital cohabitation. These matters can cause difficulty forming lasting love in marriage. If you're considering living together, you just might want to think about them:
Serial cohabitation is associated with greater risk for divorce. Cohabiting with more than just your future spouse is linked to poorer marital outcomes.
Cohabiting with your eventual mate before having clear, mutual plans for marriage correlates to lower marital satisfaction and higher divorce risk. Couples who currently live together and have clear plans for marriage have stronger relationships.
Cohabiting without a mutual and clear intention to marry is on the rise. Unmarried, cohabiting women have greater rates of unplanned pregnancies than married women.
Living together often creates constraints that make it harder to break up. Yet, the kind of dedication most strongly associated with happy, strong relationships levels off.
You can read Stanley's entire blog post here.
If this topic is relevant to you, don't buy Kuperberg’s research hook, line and sinker. Learn more about all the research related to cohabitation. Then, consider how it might impact your life and the ones you love.