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(LifeSiteNews) — Newly released data shows that couples who cohabitate before getting married have higher rates of poor marriages and divorce.

A report on the impact of cohabitation, engagement and divorce put out by the Institute for Family Studies points to increased numbers of “marital dissolution” among couples who lived together before marriage than those who moved in after taking their marriage vows.

Based on data from couples who married between 2010 and 2019, the group determined that “not living together before marriage, or only doing so after already being engaged to marry, is associated with a lower likelihood of marriages ending than living together before being engaged.”

According to the report, 46 percent of the nationwide sample of American couples involved in the research lived together before engagement while 20 percent did so after engagement and 34 percent waited until after marriage. Out of these cohabiting couples, 34 percent did so before engagement and were more likely to experience “marital dissolution” and divorce. Comparatively, those who moved in together after engagement or marriage had a rate of 23 percent for the same negative impact.

The data also showed that, among the couples who did cohabitate before marriage, those who “slid into living together” run a substantially higher risk of divorce than those who “talked about it and made a decision” to move in with each other.

Thirty-six percent of cohabiting couples made a concrete decision to live together while 64 percent did so without a set conversation and agreement. Consequently, 34 percent of cohabiting couples faced greater possibility of divorce after casually moving in compared with 21 percent of those who “made a decision together.”

Further questions in the study revealed the most common reasons that couples provided for moving in together before they were married. Forty-four percent stated that they did so to “spend more time with [their] partner[s],” 22 percent said it “made sense financially,” 17 percent argued it was “inconvenient to live apart” and 17 percent did so to “test the relationship.”

According to the data, those who moved in for financial reasons had the highest percentage of “marital dissolution” at 40 percent. Those motivated to do so to “test the relationship” came in at the second most likely at 33 percent compared with those who cohabited for convenience (29 percent) and those who wanted to spend more time with each other (23 percent).

Additionally, rates of poor marriage and divorce were more likely among couples who had had “prior cohabitation partners.” Of participants, 16 percent reported having lived with at least one other person and 12 percent at least two or more. Seventy-two percent did not live with another partner. Data from 2022 showed that marriages in which the spouses cohabited before were 25 percent more likely to end in divorce compared with those who practiced chastity (20 percent). Similarly, those who lived together before marriage were 30 percent more likely to experience “marital dissolution” than those who did not (25 percent).

“In the United States, cohabitation before marriage became increasingly common starting about five decades ago,” researchers Scott M. Stanley and Galena K. Rhoades wrote. “By the late 1990s, more than three-fifths of high school students in the U.S. believed that ‘it is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along.’”

“This sentiment remains just as popular now, with a majority of adults believing it is wise to live together first to test a relationship. And in practice, it is estimated that 70 percent of couples live together before getting married today.”

However, researchers argue that “although many believe that living together before marriage will lower their odds of divorce, there is no evidence that this is generally true and a lot of evidence that it is not true.”