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Does Living Together Before Marriage Predict Divorce?

This guest article from YourTango was written by Susan Dutton Freund.

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a study (PDF) that examines data from first marriages for men and women ages 15 to 44. The data was collected from 2006 to 2010 by the National Survey of Family Growth with 22,682 respondents. The Associated Press promptly released a story with the headline, “Move In Before Marriage No Longer Predicts Divorce.”

But, that’s not exactly what the study shows.

Instead, the study underlined what previous studies have also shown — that moving in together before marriage might or might not predict divorce. The differentiating factor is whether or not you moved in with an expectation of a long-term commitment similar to marriage.

People who are either formally or informally engaged and those who plan to spend the rest of their lives together do not have an increased risk of divorce.

2 Comments to
Does Living Together Before Marriage Predict Divorce?

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  1. I’m glad you cleared up that statistic. When I moved in with my then-fiance (now husband), I remember hearing a lot that we were increasing our chances for divorce, along with a lot of other discouraging statistics. We didn’t have a choice in the matter financially, so I’m not sure what the point of paying attention to that stat was. I also remember being bombarded by the “half-of-all-marriages-end-in-divorce” statistic, and it makes it feel like we should never marry and just date our entire lives because, statistically, our marriage will just fail anyway!
    Stupid, isn’t it?
    Seriously, the only time I’ve ever felt insecure or questioned my marriage was a direct result of hearing statistics like these. They’re the ONLY thing that ever puts doubt in my mind. So I’ve stopped listening to them!

  2. Hi Susan, interesting statistics.

    I think the 60% vs. 53% has nothing to do with cohabiting and everything to do with a commitment to marry. The correlation of people living together or not does not equal the causation of increased divorce rates… you could just as easily say

    “A woman had a 60 percent chance that her marriage would last fifteen years if was already engaged … If no firm marriage commitment was made, the likelihood fell to 53 percent.”

    See, without any mention of cohabiting, the statistics still make perfect sense based on the intention (or not!) to marry.

    Even with the best intentions, a 40% divorce rate is staggeringly high. I recommend everyone tries to find some professional advice on separation to support them through difficult times, especially when there are children involved who might be emotionally affected.



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