Episode 3: The Move In: A Look at Cohabitation Trends

Episode Description: Are you thinking about taking the next step and moving in together? Listen to this episode to get all sides of the story. Cohabitation can be a scary step and it may not be for everyone. We talk about the pros and cons of cohabitation and look into the most recent trends.

 

What is cohabitation? It’s a situation in which a couple chooses to live together and have a sexual relationship. Cohabitation has been defined as “two unrelated persons of the opposite sex who share common living arrangements in a sexually intimate relationship without legal or religious sanction.”

Lina D opens up the episode by discussing how she was raised to think about cohabitation. Growing up in a Salvadoran household meant there were strong views against cohabitation. Her mom believed that marriage before sex was a requirement so living with the boyfriend was out of the question. She gives a recount of how her parents always talked negatively about cousins that were cohabiting and having kids. Interestingly enough, they were less concerned about people who were living together without kids but there was still an element of judgement. Lina D talks about the words (in Spanish) that are used to describe the partner: el marido or el mari-novio which was said in such a tone that showed a type of disdain and disapproval for the situation. What’s worse, is that women somehow lost their identity when they decided to move in with their significant other. All of the sudden they would be referred to as “la mujer.” Maddie and Westley explain how in Haitian culture they weren’t as judgemental but it was still preferred that couples get married before they decided to live together.

Maddie and Westley also share their views on cohabitation. Maddie would never do it because it would get in the way of her leading a celibate life. Westley agrees that his upbringing led him to believe that only married couples should live together, but when he was young he said he would only do it if he felt something special for the person. Westley and Lina D then discuss how they came about deciding to move in together.

So what are the stats around living together? We take a look at Pew Social Trends and find that one-in-four parents living with a child in the United States today are unmarried. “Driven by declines in marriage overall, as well as increases in births outside of marriage, this marks a dramatic change from a half-century ago, when fewer than one-in-ten parents living with their children were unmarried (7%).” Trends show that fewer Americans are getting married, and that it’s becoming more common for unmarried people to have babies. In 1970 there were 26 births per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15 to 44, while that rate in 2016 stood at 42 births per 1,000 unmarried women. Meanwhile, birthrates for married women have declined, from 121 births per 1,000 down to about 90. This one came as a shock to Lina D- you should listen to the banter between Maddie and Lina D. In 1997, the first year for which data on cohabitation are available, 20% of unmarried parents who lived with their children were also living with a partner, now that share has increased to 35%. Pew Research found some interesting trends tied to age. Roughly half of those living with an unmarried partner are younger than 35. Since 2007, the number of cohabiting adults ages 50 and older has grown by 75%.

 

We discuss our views on whether cohabitation is bad. Some studies have shown that living together prior to marriage most likely ends in divorce, but more recent studies show the opposite- cohabitation alone isn’t the culprit for divorce. According to this Time article living together doesn’t totally keep people from divorce, but it isn’t the marriage killer it was once thought to be. Here are some interesting facts surfaced by this article:

  • What leads to divorce is when people move in with someone – with or without a marriage license – if they aren’t mature and either choose incompatible partners or conduct themselves in ways that threaten the longevity of a relationship.
  • Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois-Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick. Her analysis shows that for every year a woman waits to get married, right up until her early 30s, she reduces her chances of divorce.
  • 70% of all women aged 30 to 34 have lived with a boyfriend and many are educated and wealthy.

Maddie talks about the reasons why she would never consider moving in with someone before marriage. Ladies if your priority is to get a ring put on it, then listen to the episode to help you sort out your stance on the issue. Maddie offers great advice. She also references an article from Probe and explains how those who live together before they get married are putting their future marriage in danger.

Obviously living together isn’t a one size fits all issue. Make sure you listen to this episode and inform yourself on the different points of view.

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