Societal Norms are Changing; Views on Cohabitation and Marriage

“You should not live together before marriage.” Growing up in old fashioned style environments, many teenagers and young adults dating may have heard this statement from either their parents, grandparents, or family friends. Everyone has their reasons for why they believe this whether it be religious believes, personal believes, etc. Society is changing and with that the social and societal norms are changing as well. What used to be rare “back in the day” is now something normal and is not questioned nearly as much. Personally, my family is split with their beliefs on cohabitating before marriage, which has overtime shifted my view on the subject. For the longest time I agreed with not living together with someone before we were married, but after being in a committed relationship for over two years now, I personally do not see too much of a problem with it. Part of getting to know a person on a deeper level is learning more about how they live their lives at home and in private, which means learning their daily routines and minimal things such as their cleanliness level for example.

Wanting to hear from someone who has had experience with cohabitation before marriage, I decided to call my sister and get her point of view on the subject. My sister and her husband moved in together whenever they were still dating and lived together in two different states for almost three years before getting married. When I asked her about her view on cohabitation she said, “I think it is a great next step before getting married for dating couples and I believe that you should live with somebody before you get married because you need to know how they perform their everyday tasks and daily routines. For instance, my husband and I do things still that are perhaps different from the way the other person would do it. Learning their quirks beforehand gives you time to adjust and put that into the thought process when considering marriage.”

When I asked a friend of mine, we will call him Dale, his view on cohabitation before marriage, Dale pointed out an important detail that I think is key when many people think of moving into together, the cost. He said, “I think that with rent prices being so expensive some places, cohabitating helps cover the expense of things such as sharing the rent and in the long run could help save each person some money personally as well, looking at cohabitation from a financial viewpoint, I believe that more people should do it.”

After hearing some personal statements from my sister and my friend, I then decided to start conducting my own research on cohabitation and marriage.


According to a Pew Research Center report dated November 6, 2019, the chart pictured above shows how marriage rates have declined since 1995 and cohabitation rates have risen. Although these number differences may be slight, I wanted to find out more why this would be. According to a journal about The Role of Cohabitation in Declining Rates of Marriage, it is stated that “the increase in the proportion of unmarried young people should not be interpreted as an increase in “singlehood” as traditionally regarded: young people are setting up housekeeping with partners of the opposite sex at almost as early an age as they did before marriage rates declined.” Thanks to the National Survey of Families and Households, people are able to find out more information about cohabitation and marriage decisions, which could help explain more about why cohabitation is becoming more popular especially amongst younger generations. There are so many different factors that go into why people want to cohabitate instead of marry or why there are delays in marriage such as family history of divorce, financial needs, finishing schooling, etc. and they all need to be taken into consideration.


In a Pew Research Report dated November 6, 2019, the chart pictured above shows how it is now more common to have cohabitated than to have married.  In an article Premarital Cohabitation Divorce, written by The Atlantic, further elaborates on the subject of cohabitation and discusses other studies that have been conducted that have found a link between premarital cohabitation and an increase risk of divorce. In the article, Galena Rhoades, a psychologist at the University of Denver, believes that other studies need to “take into consideration couples’ intentions when they move in together… when analyzing couples who move in together with the intention of getting married, an thus excluding those who eschew marriage or just want to save money on rent, the heightened risk of divorce disappears.” She further explains that for those who share an apartment lease, joint custody of pets, etc. makes breaking up a “greater logistical challenge.” This could help with explaining why couples are now choosing cohabitation over marriage, depending on what study you want to focus on.

While reading the Pew Research Study for background information about the graphs, I found it interesting that although it shows how over the years cohabitation rates have increased and marriage rates have decreased, as previously discussed in this post, the study also showed that cohabitation rates have hit a plateau over the past decade.  This information is shown below in the graph from the Pew Research Report dated November 6, 2019. Maybe since cohabitation has become so common in today’s day in age, that is why the numbers have plateaued or maybe because more people are waiting longer to commit in relationships and take the next step whether that be cohabitation or marriage.  In another article shared in The Atlantic, Cohabitation A Step Toward Marriage, Not A Rebellion, the author Lauren Fox uses the infamous ABC network’s television show, The Bachelor, as an example. She shared that, “Bachelor Sean Lowe and his wife Catherine Giudici were all over the tabloids when they announced they would not move in together until after their televised wedding.”  People magazine went as far as to headline that the celebrity couple “waits until marriage” to shack up.  How crazy is that? I guess when that show focuses on finding love in a house with 20 other people of the opposite gender, it may be seen as a shocker when they decide to wait until after their wedding to live together.  As Lauren Fox puts it, “Cohabitation has become so common that it’s almost odd not to test drive a partner before marriage.” and I would have to say I can see where she is coming from with that statement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s