Living together before marriage can be detrimental to future relationships and ultimately the stability of marriage, according to a report released Feb. 3 by the National Marriage Project based at Rutgers.
"Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know About Cohabitation Before Marriage" analyzed the latest research on changing trends in nonmarital cohabitation and the relationships between cohabitation, marriage, and social and economic well-being.
"Living together before marriage seems like a harmless, or even progressive family trend until you look at the evidence," explained report co-author David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at Rutgers.
Some of the report's key findings:
• Living together before marriage increases the risk of breaking up after marriage.
• Living together outside of marriage increases the risk of domestic violence for women, and the risk of physical and sexual abuse for children.
• Unmarried couples have lower levels of happiness and well-being than married couples.
"These findings are really quite surprising," said Popenoe, "and they should be carefully considered by all young Americans."
The report concludes, "By all of the empirical evidence at our disposal, not to mention the wisdom of the ages, the institution of marriage remains a cornerstone of a successful society. And the practice of cohabitation, far from being a friend of marriage, looks more and more like its enemy."