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Living together before marriage now less predictive of divorce

Once upon a time, conventional wisdom said that couples that lived together before getting married were also more likely to get a divorce. But times are different now, right? Apparently yes, at least according to the results of a new government-sponsored marriage survey taken by more than 22,000 men and women in Las Vegas, Nevada and nationwide.

Although the survey found that living together prior to marriage is not as predictive of divorce as it used to be, the results suggest that commitment is a difference-making factor.

An analysis of survey results showed that couples who lived together while formally engaged or with an expressed their intent to get married in the near future, were significantly less likely to divorce than couples who lived together with no expressed or definite marriage plans. It is also worth noting that similar statistics were reported for men and women who participated in the study.

In terms of specific numbers, researchers found there was a roughly 60 percent chance that a marriage would last 15 years or more if the spouses hadn’t lived together before marriage or did not move in together until formally engaged. Couples who didn’t have an expressed commitment to getting married before moving in together, however, had a slightly better than 50 percent chance of similar success.

Researchers believe the two largest factors contributing to the difference in the divorce rates of these two groups are commitment and shared goals. n interviews with women who had been married for 20 years after cohabitating with their future spouse, most reported that a shared goal of a future together had been a large part of their premarital relationship, likely contributing to the longevity of their marriage.

Source: ABC News, “Move-in Before Marriage No Longer Predicts Divorce,” Mike Stobbe, Mar. 22, 2012

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