First Advisor

Linda Gallahan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Unmarried couples -- United States -- Statistics, Marriage -- United States -- Statistics, Unmarried couples -- Attitudes




Beginning in the 1970's, young adults are more likely to announce that they are moving in with a partner rather than entering marriage. As rates of legal marriage between ages 16-26 are continuing to decline, the rates of cohabitation are rising two-fold. Compared to previous decades, individuals in our society are now more hesitant to enter marriage and are more likely to try out their relationships through cohabitation before making a commitment. Archival research on pre-engagement cohabitation suggests that, contrary to popular culture beliefs, pre-engagement cohabitation is a predictor of both marital divorce in marriages and relationship dissatisfaction. Despite the abundance of data on the adverse effects of cohabitation on subsequent marriage, young adults are increasingly continuing to engage in pre-marital cohabitation. Having noticed these contradictions, this study embarked on a quest to determine why the numbers of cohabitors are continuing to rise. The conclusions of this study propose that the existing research on cohabitation has overlooked important variables when comparing cohabitation and marriage and that the success of a marriage that comes out of cohabitation is mainly related to the level of commitment, intentions to eventually formalize their relationship, level of satisfaction, and overall well-being of the individuals rather than the status of their relationship prior to marriage.


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