How do you know you want to buy a car? You test drive it! Many Americans believe living together before marriage is a beneficial way to determine if couples are compatible. However, the question remains: is cohabitation statistically the right choice for building a lasting, fulfilling relationship? 

The viral Spectator article “Date to marry, not to have fun” sparked debates on the purpose of dating and relationships. While dating without commitment can be unfulfilling, many forget that “playing house” or cohabitation may lead to long-term consequences.

Marriage rates have continued to decline, and in retrospect the trend of cohabitation has increased. Today, only a little over half of U.S. adults are married, marking a 5% decline from the marriage rate in 1995. Over the same period, the share of cohabiting Americans has increased at nearly the same rate

America stands out for its consistently higher divorce rate compared to other countries, and this rate continues to climb. While cohabitation may not solely be responsible for the increasing divorce rates, it’s essential to consider any contributing factors when couples are making life-altering decisions.

Roughly 78% of Gen Z find it acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together without plans of marriage. However, research indicates that cohabitation may increase the risk of divorce and marriage dissatisfaction. 

Multiple studies have found that marriages of couples who moved in together before engagement were significantly more likely to end than those who cohabited after marriage. 

Additionally, studies have shown that anticipation and excitement of waiting to live together may significantly contribute to overall satisfaction with married adults generally experiencing higher levels of relationship satisfaction and trust than unmarried adults. 

Other studies have shown that cohabitation prior to marriage has been  associated with poorer marital communication quality.

While cohabitation may have short-term advantages, such as getting to know each other’s habits, the potential long-term consequences, such as the increased risk of divorce, may outweigh the short-term benefits.

Strong marriages are the foundation of a strong society, and approaching relationships with intention and commitment is crucial. By recognizing the potential consequences of cohabitation and striving for genuine connection and understanding, couples can navigate their journey together with a clearer vision for the future. 

Whether test-driving a car or choosing to live together, making informed decisions paves the way for a more fulfilling and lasting marriage.