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A recent Pew Research Center report focused on marriage and cohabitation trends in the United States finds a rise in the share of adults that have lived with an unmarried partner, which now surpasses the share of adults who have been married. As these changes ensue, more Americans believe it is acceptable for unmarried couples to live together, whether or not they plan to get married. The report also reveals differences in relationship satisfaction between cohabiting unmarried partners and their married counterparts.
According to the report, it is now more common among American adults to have cohabited than to have married. Between 2013-2017, 59 percent of adults ages 18 to 44 reported that they have cohabited and 50 percent said they have married. In addition, 62 percent of those who have cohabited have only lived with one partner, but 38 percent have lived with two or more partners over their lifetime. In 2002, 54 percent of the same age group said they have cohabited compared to 60 percent who said they have married.
In terms of present relationships, 53 percent of adults 18 years and older are currently married, a decrease from 58 percent in 1995. Over the same period, the share of adults who are living with an unmarried partner has risen four percentage points– 3 percent in 1995 to 7 percent in 2017.
Why are more adults choosing to move in with their significant others? About four in 10 cohabiting adults cite finances and convenience as reasons for moving in together—38 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
Married adults tend to have a higher relationship satisfaction than those who live with an unmarried partner. For instance, 58 percent of married adults say that things are going very well in their relationship, compared to 41 percent of unmarried partners living together. Overall, 54 percent of adults who are either married or living with a partner say their relationship is going “very well,” while 39 percent say things are going “fairly well.”
Married adults express higher satisfaction in specific aspects of their relationship, such as how household chores are divided, how well their spouse or partner achieves a work-life balance, how well they communicate as a couple, their spouse’s or partner’s approach to parenting, and their level of trust in their spouse or partner.
Many cohabiting unmarried adults who are not engaged, about 44 percent, see living together as a step toward marriage. Similarly, two-thirds of married adults who lived with their spouse before marriage saw cohabitation as a step in that direction. Roughly half of adults believe couples who live together first have a better chance of having a successful marriage. However, 38 percent of U.S. adults say that living together makes no difference.
Read the full report here.