By JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE
Thinking of moving in with your significant other, just to see if marriage is a good idea? Turns out living together isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The Census reports a 72 percent increase in the number of cohabiting couples since 1990. Unfortunately, research shows that cohabitation is correlated with greater likelihood of unhappiness, and domestic violence in the relationship.
Cohabiting couple report lower levels of satisfaction in the relationship than married couples. Women are more likely to be abused by a cohabiting boyfriend than a husband. Children are more likely to abused by their mothers’ boyfriends than by her husband, even if the boyfriend is their biological father. If a cohabiting couple ultimately marries, they tend to report lower levels of marital satisfaction and a higher propensity to divorce.
Recent reports and commentaries on cohabitation tend to downplay these difficulties. I suspect this is because people do not know how to make sense of the research findings. Many people imagine that living together before marriage resembles taking a car for a test drive. The “trial period” gives people a chance to discover whether they are compatible. This analogy seems so compelling that people are […]