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Shacking up may not lead to divorce

Cohabitation among on young adults has increased exponentially. During the 1950s, only bohemians would have admitted to "living together" and for years the activity was referred to with the pejorative "shacking up." It presented a significant concern for many in Illinois and elsewhere, for beyond the moral issues it raised, it was often said to "cause" divorce.

Social science research had found that numerous studies showed a connection between cohabitation before marriage and the likelihood of divorce after marriage. Yet, despite this connection, researchers had not found a large increase in the divorce rate. 

According to recent research, it appears that it is not the cohabitation that is a significant predictor of divorce, but the age at which a couple lives together.

Perhaps most disappointing to the pro-marriage, anti-cohabitation forces, the study found that not only was age significant as a predictor of divorce for cohabiting couples, but was also the most important predictor of divorce for married couples.

The researchers noted that marriage today is much different than it was 60 years ago. The well-defined roles and economic classifications are largely gone, and couples need to be able to work with each other and negotiate and compromise together.

Many younger couples lack the maturity necessary to successfully navigate these often-complex waters, and the presence of a marriage certificate does little to help.

There are a great many factors that can lead to a break up of a marriage with a divorce. It is important to know that living together before you married is not one of them.

Source:, "Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says," Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, March 10, 2014

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