Living Together No Guarantee of Marriage

Study says many cohabiting couples never tie the knot

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People who live together before marriage are less likely to say "I do" than was previously believed.

About 40 percent of cohabiting couples in the study were married within four to seven years and about 42 percent of cohabiting couples disagreed about the future of their relationship.

Contrary to popular belief, the study found couples who were the most similar and men with the best economic prospects were not more likely than others to marry after cohabiting.

The study shows that living together isn't necessarily a transition period that leads to marriage, study co-author Sharon Sassler, an assisant professor of sociology at Ohio State University, says in a prepared statement.

"For growing numbers of couples, cohabitation is now becoming an alternative to marriage or being single. Many couples seem to be living together longer without marrying or ending their relationship," Sassler says.

The study, in the current issue of Social Science Research, found that consensus by both partners about marriage plans was the factor that best predicted future marriage.

But that kind of consensus was relatively rare. Fewer than 32 percent of the couples in this study agreed with each other than they had definite marriage plans. Another 42 percent disagreed about the future of their relationship.

"Our results indicate that couples who use cohabitation as a trial period to test compatibility are far less likely to marry than couples who agree that there are definite marriage plans and a specific wedding date," Sassler says.

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SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, February 2004

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