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Does Living Together Before Marriage Lead to Divorce?


If a couple in Chesapeake or Suffolk, Virginia lives together before getting married, is the couple more likely to get divorced? The answer to this question has resulted in different—and often opposite—answers from researchers over the last several decades. However, according to a recent article in The Atlantic, a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family articulates how cohabitation before marriage may in fact lead to higher rates of divorce. Why could living together before marriage make it more likely that a couple might get divorced? We will say more about the recent research on this topic and how it might apply to couples in Chesapeake and Suffolk, VA.

Background of the Recent Research Into Cohabitation and Divorce

Does cohabitation before marriage really increase the likelihood of divorce? To answer that question, the researchers who conducted the recent study began from the premise that it seems logical that “the experience of premarital cohabitation would select compatible couples into marriage and lead to lower rates of divorce.” In other words, it makes sense that, if a couple lives together before making a legal commitment to one another, they can see whether their relationship is likely to last before deciding to get married. The authors of the study, Michael J. Rosenfeld and Katharina Roesler, explain that this position was an early assumption scholars made before they had data on premarital cohabitation.

However, historically, once researchers began obtaining data on premarital cohabitation, they discovered that the numbers suggested the opposite was true: that premarital cohabitation meant the couple was more likely to get divorced. These theories also have changed over the years, with scholars in the 2000s finding that the link between premarital cohabitation and divorce had diminished greatly. At the same time, Rosenfeld and Roesler found that society may be trending back toward a clearer link between divorce and living together before marriage.

Marital Stability and the Long-Term Costs of Premarital Cohabitation

The key takeaway from the recent study is that “premarital cohabitation has short-term benefits and longer-term costs for marital stability.” The following are some of the central findings that led Rosenfeld and Roesler to that conclusion:

  • Link between premarital cohabitation and divorce rate has remained relatively steady over the years;
  • Cohabitation has benefits for couples (and may improve a relationship) during the first year of the marriage; and
  • In the long run, people who cohabitate before marriage and later get married could be entering into the marriage for the wrong reasons.

According to Galena Rhoades, a University of Denver psychologist, one of the likely reasons that cohabitation often leads to divorce is that couples who cohabitate do not do so with the intention of getting married. In many cases, as Rhoades contends, a high percentage of cohabitating couples “eschew marriage or just want to save money on rent.” Many of these couples decide to move in together for reasons that are not based on a commitment to one another, but rather on external factors and sometimes necessities. As such, sd. And living together without getting married—and without fully considering the effects on the relationship—has become somewhat commonplace. To be sure, an article in The Atlantic reported that we recently entered the “age of shotgun cohabitation,” or unmarried parents deciding to live together often for the sake of their children.

Discuss Your Case with a Divorce Lawyer in Suffolk, VA

If you have questions about filing for divorce in Suffolk, VA or Chesapeake, VA, you should discuss your case with a Suffolk divorce attorney. Contact Shannon & Associates, P.C. for more information.

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