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Cohabiting doesn’t lead to more committed marriages, study finds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Men who cohabit with the women they eventually marry are more reluctant to marry and, then, are less committed to their marriages, according to a recent study by the co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.

Women who are cohabiting “should be very careful about how aligned they are with a particular man if he does not show any strong sense of marriage and a future together,” researcher Scott Stanley said in USA Today July 8.

Though his research reinforces the stereotype that men are more likely to move more slowly toward marriage than women, Stanley said his findings do not indicate an absence of “super men” who will be dedicated to their wives after cohabitation.

USA Today reported that more than 5 million unmarried American couples live together, and between 50 percent and 60 percent of new marriages now involve couples who have lived together first.

Many cohabiting couples say they want to live together in order to get a sense of what it would be like to be married to a particular person without the obligation of staying in the relationship if it does not work favorably. They also cite fears of divorce as reasons why they choose to live together rather than marry first.

Divorce is “just a huge issue for my generation,” Rosanne Garfield, 28, of Arlington, Va., told USA Today. “My family has not had good success with marriage. I was living with my boyfriend for the last year. I told him to make a decision [about marriage], and that ended it. But it would never cross my mind not to live together with someone before marrying him.”

Even so, the divorce rate among those who have cohabited is higher than that of those who have not.

From his study, Stanley also suggests that less religious men were likely to be less committed.

Stanley’s study is based on a sub-sample of 207 men and women married 10 years or less and chosen from ongoing marital research on 950 adults nationwide. Standard assessments of commitment were used during telephone interviews.

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