The No.1 Reason to WAIT Before Moving In
TIME reports, “Just as nobody buys a car without taking it for a test-drive, most people—about two thirds of couples—don’t get married any more until they’ve lived with their proposed lifetime partner. This has been true for a while, even though studies done right up until the 2000s showed that couples who lived together first actually got divorced more often than those who didn’t. But a spate of new studies looking at cohabitation, as it’s called, are starting to refine those results.
A paper in the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, but presented early to the Council on Contemporary Families says that past studies have overstated the risk of divorce for cohabiting couples. Arielle Kuperberg, assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says that the important characteristic is not whether people lived together first, but how old they were when they decided to share a front door.
“It turns out that cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce and probably never did,” says Kuperberg. “What leads to divorce is when people move in with someone – with or without a marriage license – before they have the maturity and experience to choose compatible partners and to conduct themselves in ways that can sustain a long-term relationship.”
So what’s the magic age? Kuperberg says it’s unwise to either move in or get married before the age of 23. But other family experts say that’s lowballing it. Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois-Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick. In fact, Lehrer’s analysis of longitudinal data shows that for every year a woman waits to get married, right up until her early 30s, she reduces her chances of divorce. It’s possible that woman may also be reducing her chances of marriage, but Lehrer’s research suggests later marriages, while less conventional, may be more robust.”