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Non-Traditional Families I
Section 6: Cohabitation

Advanced Psychology

Introduction
About 70% of Americans live with partner before marriage.

Evidence has suggested that premarital cohabitation is a risk factor for subsequent divorce as well as lower marital quality.

H1: Married couples who lived with their spouses before engagement would report poorer quality marriages (general satisfaction, communication, confidence in the relationship, commitment, sense of future, friendship, satisfaction with sexual component), and greater divorce potential than those who lived together after engagement or not at all.

H2: The above findings would hold even when controlling for length of marriage and factors associated with selection into cohabitation, such as religiousness, age, education, and income

Methods
1050 men and women in different relationships completed telephone surveys about cohabitation history.
Ages 18 to 34
Married 10 years or less
$35K to $40K annual income
Several ethnic groups, 84.9% White

Answered 10 questions about relationship satisfaction, dedication, confidence, sexual satisfaction, friendship, negative communication, and divorce potential.

Demographic information listed above

Results
Those who cohabited before engagement reported significantly poorer marital quality.

Those who cohabited before engagement reported significantly lower levels of satisfaction, dedication, and confidence.

Those who cohabited before engagement were significantly more likely to suggest divorce.

There were not differences between those who cohabited after engagement and not at all on any of the variables.

Effects remained significant when controlling for length of marriage, religiousness, and education

Conclusions
Replicates data from previous studies.

Those who cohabit before engagement are at greater risk for relationship instability and lower quality.

Those who cohabit after engagement are no different than those who do not cohabit at all.

Discussion Questions
Do these results surprise you? Why or why not?

How might the results of this study be integrated into a Christian World View?  Explain your answer.