The Case Against Cohabitation

April 16, 2012 | Sarah

This weekend the New York Times published a very controversial and popular article entitled “The Downside of Cohabitation.” The article takes a look at the fact that cohabiting before marriage does not lead to successful and happy marriages. On the contrary, couple who cohabit tend to be less satisfied with their marriages and more prone to divorce. The article calls the the “cohabitation effect.”

A lot of the cohabitation effect can be attributed to different attitudes men and women have for living together:

When researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken — even unconscious — agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage.

However, these expectations are rarely discussed, as many couples just find themselves slipping into cohabitation. This in turn leads to lower expectations and sliding into marriage as well without any serious consideration.

NeW has written about cohabitation before. Given that cohabitation does not seem to be going anywhere (the statistics listed in the NYT article indicate it will be around for a long time), what implications will this article have on people who are considering moving in together? Does it change your opinion on living together before marriage?

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