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    Living Together Before Marriage Linked To More Unhappiness
    By News Staff | July 13th 2009 01:00 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    University of Denver researchers say that couples who live together before they are engaged have a higher chance of getting divorced than those who wait until they are married to cohabitate.

    In addition, couples who lived together before engagement and then married, reported a lower satisfaction in their marriages.   Couples who got engaged and then later moved in together had no conclusive difference one way or another.   The research published in Journal of Family Psychology was conducted by Galena Rhoades, senior researcher, Scott Stanley, research professor, and Howard Markman, professor of psychology.

    "Cohabiting to test a relationship turns out to be associated with the most problems in relationships," Rhoades says. "Perhaps if a person is feeling a need to test the relationship, he or she already knows some important information about how a relationship may go over time."

    The three researchers also studied the reasons why couples decide to live together. That study, which appeared in the Journal of Family Issues, led them to conclude that most couples chose to live together in order to spend more time together. The second most popular reason is convenience, followed by testing the relationship.

    This is different than previous research that found most people cohabit to test the relationship.

    "We think that some couples who move in together without a clear commitment to marriage may wind up sliding into marriage partly because they are already cohabiting," Rhoades says.

    "It seems wise to talk about commitment and what living together might mean for the future of the relationship before moving in together, especially because cohabiting likely makes it harder to break up compared to dating," Stanley says.


    Comments

    Becky Jungbauer
    Ugh. This is a great example of why I think you need actual science backgrounds to write and/or edit science articles. (See Mike's thoughtful post for more on that.)

    If you actually read the articles (or even just the abstracts), you may agree with their findings and find them reasonable. If you scan the news wires for the topic, it looks like Family First just had their friggin' hallelujah moment.

    Here's what one of the two papers discussed here (this is from the Family Issues article abstract) says:
    The degree to which individuals report cohabiting to test their relationships is associated with more negative couple communication and more physical aggression as well as lower relationship adjustment, confidence, and dedication.
    Ok, that seems reasonable and fairly self-evident. Here are some of the headlines spawned from this, no doubt by mudrakers wanting to sell papers - these are just the ones that are on top of the Google News Feed as of a few minutes ago:

    Prenuptial Cohabiting Can Spoil Marriage
    Study debunks 'trial marriage' notion of cohabiting
    Live-in lovers have 'unhealthy' marriage
    Cohabitation Unhealthy for Marriage, Studies Continue to Confirm

    And my favorite:
    Couples living in 'sin' more likely to split later

    Seriously?? This kind of thing is just irresponsible, and undermines actual research and its findings. I can't imagine how delighted Fox News is over this research - which, by the way, was published in the February issue of both journals - which begs to ask, why the sudden flurry of attention?
    Hank
    Seriously?? This kind of thing is just irresponsible, and undermines actual research and its findings.
    Just to help us calibrate your vitriol, do you live with a significant other??  :)

    This version seems pretty tame compared to the others you cite.
    Becky Jungbauer
    Just to help us calibrate your vitriol, do you live with a significant other??  :)
    Yeah, but he married me, the poor sap, so that's his problem. :)
    This version seems pretty tame compared to the others you cite.
    Yeah, this one is. I was exclaiming at the end more about the farcical list of ridiculousness than the blog post version.