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Is There A Bias In The Research And Reporting On Living Together Versus Formal Marriage?

By Robert Bacal

If you look at some of the research, much of it old, and the reporting on marriage vs. living together, you'll find a general consensus that marriage is somehow "better" in terms of divorce (or splitting up), and even in things like satisfaction with one's sex lives.

Is that a bias, somehow or is it a reality?

The majority of the research on this topic has taken place before living together became more common practice. Even research that's only ten years old is bound to be outdated, because if you look back ten years, the people who lived together rather than getting married were more on the cutting edge -- the rebels, if you like. It's likely that those people had very different reasons for living together than the people who are doing it now.

There's been a huge shift in values about this issue, even over the last decade, essentially making invalid, any of the previous research.

Unfortunately, columnists, journalists and even some researchers are lagging behind in reinterpreting the research and drawing effective conclusions.

That's not to say that living together is better, or worse, but that we need up to date information based on the couples of TODAY, not the couples of the early 2000's.

There may not be a bias against living together, at least as intention, but there is outdated information.


The Verdict on Cohabitation vs. Marriage By Jeffry H. Larson - Article suggests you are much better off getting married than living together, and cites "evidence" on a number of factors. Suggests that married couples have better sex lives? (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 230 )

New Research Says Living Together Before Marriage Doesn't Lead To Divorce By Taryn Hillin - Challenges the research and general consensus that living together results in MORE divorces and broken relationships. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 286 )

More U.S. Couples Living Together Instead of Marrying, CDC Finds By Amanda Gardner - Many more American women are living with their partners rather than tying the knot, a new government survey finds. And they live together longer than couples in the recent past, and many more get pregnant before marriage, according to the survey released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of women aged 15 to 44 years old "cohabited" outside of marriage between 2006 and 2010, compared with 43 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 1995. The report is based on in-person interviews with more than 12,000 women in that age group. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 225 )

Living together and marriage: legal differences in The United Kingdom By na - Living together vs. marriage may have implications in the legal system depending on where you live. This extensive document outlines the legal issues for living together in Great Britain. Note that there may be differences between Wales, Ireland and Scotland as indicated in the article. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 283 )

How Living Together Beats Marriage By Vicki Larson - There seems to be more articles that support marriage over living together, but that doesn't seem to be reversing the trend. This post comes out in support of living together. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 201 )

The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage By NY Times - Meg Jay - WHEN researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken -- even unconscious -- agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 223 )

Marry or Move In Together? Brain Knows the Difference By Stephanie Pappas - Not all science is equal so treat this article with a grain of salt. Alleges there is some scientific evidence to suggest your brain somehow reacts differently depending on whether you are married or living together. Pretty dubious. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 221 )

The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Instead - Alice G. Walton - The Atlantic By ALICE G. WALTON - Marriage is a big commitment, there's no doubt about it. It's natural to be a little nervous before jumping in. But the trends and recent studies suggest that more people today seem not only anxious about the prospect of marriage, they are shunning it. Of the various ways in which one can forge a family (marriage, cohabitation, or having a child without being married), cohabitation has become the most common. One reason for this increased interest in cohabitation over marriage may not be the fear of the union itself, so much as a concern for the possibility of its collapse. In other words, it may be the looming prospect of divorce that's driving more people to choose the question "Will you move in with me?" over "Will you marry me?" What Does It Mean to Be Healthy? Stressful Life Events Can Up Death Risk Poverty and Mental Illness At the same time, research continues to show that marriage has measurable benefits, both mental and physical over cohabitation. (Added: 16-May-2014 Hits: 210 )

Is Cohabitation a Good Choice? By Sheri & Bob Stritof - Living together without the benefit of a legal marriage ceremony is more stressful for you than traditional married life. Read this article to see why this is true. There is evidence that good communication skills are lacking within a common-law relationship. See if you agree. (Added: 25-Aug-2004 Hits: 2045 )

Common Law Marriage By Aaron Larson - This article lists the U.S.A. states that recognize common law marriages. The article also identifies some surprising situations that can arise due to common-law relationships and divorce. You'll want to read this article to learn more about common-law relationship legalities. (Added: 25-Aug-2004 Hits: 2304 )

Cohabitation - Good For Him, Not For Her By Ronald H. Johnson III - This article is an exerpt of talk given by the author to college students. See why the guys benefit from a common-law relation more than the gals benefit. Also, discover the different types of common-law relationships as defined by the author -- A Linus Blanket relationship. Intrigued? Read on, and see what type of relationship you are living in at this moment. (Added: 25-Aug-2004 Hits: 2272 )

Shacking Up And Breaking Down By n/a - Read how children of common-law relationships differ from children of a tradtional marriage. This articles makes a number of suggestions aimed at reducing the negative social impacts for children of a common-law marriage. (Added: 24-Aug-2004 Hits: 1032 )

Pages Updated On: 21-Sep-2015 - 10:22:34


About The Author

Robert's books have sold over 300 thousand copies worldwide, and have been translated into Chinese, French, German and Japanese.

He holds a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology, and has taught clinical and counselling psychology at the college level.

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