By Gerri Elder
Some studies have indicated that cohabitation before marriage leads to divorce; however, the Examiner recently took a closer look at these studies and came to a different conclusion.
A study by the CDC found that the chance that a couple will divorce after cohabitation depends on many factors. Economic status, education, ethnicity, religious beliefs, job status and whether or not the couple has children all play a part in the equation. Cohabitation on its own can’t be blamed for divorce.
Another researcher, Stephanie Coontz, found that in countries like Germany, where few people disapprove of premarital sex, cohabitation may actually help insulate a couple from the risk of divorce.
Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University, has also conducted research on cohabitation. Teachman studied whether or not having lived with other partners before living with and marrying a partner made any difference in the divorce rate. He found that it did.
Teachman found that living together before marriage does not increase the divorce rate - except in cases where people have lived with other partners before. In the case of serial cohabiters, the risk of divorce was increased by cohabitation.
Research by Cornell sociologist Daniel Lichter seemed to back up Teachman's findings. Lichter found that for woman, the odds of a marriage ending in divorce were 30 percent lower if they lived with their husbands before getting married; however, this is true only in cases where the woman's husband was the only man she had cohabitated with before getting married.
There are some theories that taxes may influence couples who have cohabitated to divorce. The Examiner cited the tax structure, which in some cases penalizes married couples, as a possible reason for divorce.
The federal "marriage penalty" tax structure may cause some people who have cohabitated and then married to divorce. These couples may continue living together, after realizing that they would be better off tax-wise if they were not married. It's a bit of a stretch, but entirely possible to believe that in today's economy, some couples simply cannot afford to stay married.
The number of cohabitating couples in the United States continues to grow. This may be due to a greater acceptance in society than in previous decades, or could simply be a matter of convenience.
Whatever the eventual outcome of their marital status is, a broader look at research and data regarding cohabitation seems to indicate that couples who live together before marriage are not necessarily destined to divorce.