What is the Connection Between Cohabitation and Divorce?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 05 March 2020
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There have been several studies over the years that have suggested a direct connection between cohabitation and divorce. People who live together prior to marriage have generally tended to get divorced more often. Over time, those studies have changed a bit, and some research now shows that this connection has more to do with the reasons for cohabitating and the mindsets of people who choose to cohabitate before marriage. Basically, experts suggest that there is no statistically relevant correlation between cohabitation and divorce in couples who made a commitment to get married before starting cohabitation. For couples who moved in for some other reason, and then decided to get married later, studies have shown a higher divorce rate.

According to experts, the higher number of divorces among those who cohabitate without making a commitment might be because the match wasn’t good in the first place. If the people weren’t really sure about each other and decided to move in together and see if they could make things work on a trial basis, it could mean that there was already some kind of problem present. Many of them may move in together with a negative outlook on the relationship, and on some level, they might be looking for an excuse to end things.


One of the reasons suggested for the connection between cohabitation and divorce is mostly cultural. Some experts believe that the types of people who choose to cohabitate are generally culturally more liberal and open to the idea of divorcing in the first place. On the other hand, religious couples may have a much higher threshold before considering divorce, and they would also tend to be much less likely to live together without first getting married. People who get engaged before cohabitation may also be more traditional than those who don’t, even if they are less traditional than those who get married before cohabitating.

Earlier studies in the era when cohabitation first started to become common showed a much greater connection between cohabitation and divorce. The changes in statistics over time may have something to do with changes in the culture. Cohabitation has generally become more common over time, even among people who are generally traditional and conservative in most ways. It’s also generally true that many early studies had smaller samples to work with, partly because of the smaller numbers of cohabitators during those times, and partly because of the sampling methods.


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Post 3

With cohabitation before marriage, the bottom line is certain individuals are more likely to divorce and other individuals are more likely to remain married regardless of whether they live together or not before marriage.

And then there are some unpredictable occurrences that push us toward divorce and others that push us toward a lifetime with a spouse.

Post 2

All the research on the effects of cohabitation before marriage can be confusing. When you are serious about someone, living together is a good test run for marriage. You might as well find out what you are getting before you go through with a wedding and then decide you made a mistake, especially with divorce laws being what they are in some places.

Post 1

I was raised to believe that you didn't live with a person until you were married. I stuck to my beliefs regarding premarital cohabitation for a long time. Then I met someone who didn't subscribe to the same beliefs, so I said, why not, and we moved in together.

As bad as this sounds, I was happy to remain in that relationship until someone better came along. Three years after living together, no one better had come along, so we married. Long story short, this was not a strong foundation for a marriage and ours ended.

If we had never moved in together, we probably would not have married and we could not have divorced.

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