For individuals, deciding means thinking carefully about what they want in a romantic partner, in their sexual life, from living together, and in having children—and keeping these desires in mind as they navigate relationships.
If two people are dating, living in the same city, spending most nights of the week together, and are moving toward marriage, doesn’t it make sense to just move in together, and save a little money? Though traditional wisdom holds that cohabiting is a bad idea—and historically it has indeed been associated with a higher risk of divorce—moving in together before marriage is the norm among couples today.
But before couples sign a lease together, they would do well to ask themselves: Did we slide into the decision to move in together or did we decide to cohabit?
That question matters in terms of the length and quality of subsequent marriage.
Traditionalists tend to think cohabiting before marriage is a bad idea, and progressives are more likely to embrace it, but new research says that’s not the best way to approach the question: The important thing is A report released today from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia looks at the many factors that predict a high quality marriage.
Think of the college couple whose relationship began as a random hookup, the couple who moved in together so that they could pay less rent, or the couple who chose to elope on a whim rather than have a formal wedding.
These are couples who, often without realizing it, slid through relationship transitions that could have been planned out, discussed, and debated.
Other milestones might include the “define the relationship” talk—the moment a couple says they are actually a couple—sex, engagement, marriage, and children.
In the past, these milestones tended to follow a straightforward order that began with courtship, passed the milestones of marriage, cohabitation, and sex, and ended with children.
About nine in 10 couples have sex before marriage, half of all women cohabit before marriage, and four in 10 babies are born to unwed moms.