31 January 2006

Living together has its pitfalls

People who live together face greater prospects of an unhappy marriage and divorce, Penn State researchers say.

More than half of all couples now live together before marrying, as opposed to the 10 percent who acknowledged cohabitating 30 years ago, Penn State researchers say. But in both groups, the researchers found, people who lived together faced greater prospects of an unhappy marriage and divorce.

"Contrary to the popular belief that living together will improve a person's ability to choose a marriage partner and stay married, the opposite is actually the case," lead researcher Claire Kamp Dush, a doctoral candidate in human development and family studies, says in a statement.

Exact reasons remain a mystery
She says the exact reasons for the link between cohabitation and troubled unions remains a mystery, though there are indications that people choose riskier partners when living together because they think it will be easier to break up than if they were married. Cohabitating partners also tend to focus less on resolving problems and providing support to their partners, the researchers say.

They compared data on 1 425 people married between 1964 and 1980, and between 1981 and 1997. Results of the study are published in the August edition of the Journal of Marriage and the Family. – (HealthDayNews)

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