Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC/Centers for Disease Control) just released a new study on marriage and cohabitation in the United States. The study defines cohabitation as “a man and woman living together in a sexual relationship without being married.” The findings confirm what earlier studies have reported — that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. As The New York Times reports:

Couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married, a new study has found. But their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began living together. The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found …

The survey found that about 28 percent of men and women had cohabitated before their first marriage and that about 7 percent lived together and never married. About 23 percent of women and 18 percent of men married without having lived together. Women who were not living with both of their biological or adoptive parents when they were 14 years old were less likely to be married and more likely to be cohabiting than those who grew up with both parents.

For more information on the effects of living together before marriage, I encourage you to visit my series on the topic. Click on the following links to access the series:

Living Together Before Marriage Series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?


  1. Kaylee says:

    Taken from

    “The report, “Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States,” shows that more people than ever are living together without being married. And, it also shows that marriage itself is doing just fine, thanks. Contrary to past dogma, the study also shows that there is no longer a meaningful divorce gap between those who live together first and those who didn’t.”

    I am not entirely sure why two views on the same study would differ so dramatically. I currently have no intention of ever getting married. If I do get married, I want to have lived with that person before hand. God only knows what surprises are in store otherwise.

    Now, having not read the study myself, I am not saying that MSNBC is entirely right either, but i feel as though the above post is completely bias. Of course we are all entitled to our own opinions and this is your site, but how about an argument for the other side? It would make yours a lot more believable

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Kaylee – Thanks for commenting. I am sure we all have our biases, you, me and MSNBC included. However, I don’t agree that my post above is “completely biased.” For one thing, I was quoting from The New York Times which is far from a conservative source. Also, I did read the report (link is in the article above), and here are the actual figures from Tables 16 and 17 on pages 32 and 33.

    Probability that a first marriage will survive for ten years:
        – For those who did not live together with spouse before marriage:
            Men: 0.69; Women: 0.66
        – For those who did live together with spouse before marriage:
            Men: 0.63; Women: 0.61

    Those are the numbers, so I don’t know how Brian Alexander from MSNBC can say “there is no longer a meaningful divorce gap between those who live together first and those who didn’t.” There is a statistically meaningful gap, so his statement is simply not true.

    However, I believe the moral question is far more important than the statistics. Even if the statistics demonstrated longer marriages for those who lived together first, the moral question remains. Is it morally right to live together before marriage? For those who accept the Bible as God’s Word, the Scriptures clearly say no. (Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage)

  3. johnb says:

    How about two people in their 60’s, one married for 37 years and now a widower, the other married for 34 years and husband ran off with another woman, living together as husband and wife because of court cases affecting the past. They will never separate and will organise their respective assets after the outcomes of the court case. They will get married in the eyes of society after the court case. Are they wrong to share time together, cook for each other in their respective homes, sleep over rather than driving with alcohol in their system? Marriage in the bible is all about leaving mother and father etc with developing a relationship where kids are brought into the world. What actually defines marriage and when is marriage started? Are not this couple married in the eyes of God? Do we have to have the society’s marriage certificate to comply with the bible’s views?

  4. Amber says:

    This is a great message.

    I am engaged to my fiancé and we live together. What should we do if we already have a child together? I would hate to move out and for my fiancé not to see his baby all the time. What should I do scripturally?

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