Living Together First May Predict Lasting Marriage

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!
Advertiser Disclosure

The importance of cohabitation has been long been recognized for helping couples weather rough patches later on in marriage.

However, most studies have only focused on how various living arrangements prior to marriage effect the length of a relationship over a few years.

New research out of Ohio State University is extending those parameters by looking at couples who have been together for considerably longer, up to 24 years.

Study co-author Audrey Light, an economics professor at OSU, found with couples sharing years and decades together, the cohabitation factor seemed to play “a major role” in how many have relationships lasting eight or more years.

Many long-term unions find their start in simple cohabitation, but Light said most couples who stay together for more than eight years will eventually marry.

“Cohabiters are very common. There are so many couples that start out cohabiting, and enough of their relationships last that they end up making a significant contribution to the total number of long-term relationships,” she said.

“Most couples who stay together for

more than eight years will marry.”

Using an 18-year-old representative woman with no prior marriage or romantic cohabitation, researchers determined she would have a 16 percent chance of becoming married by 22 and remaining married for at least 12 years.

However, that same woman, factoring in cohabitation as a possibility, would then have a 22 percent chance of the same outcome.

This means adding cohabitation as a means of forming a relationship, the likelihood of success increases to a degree as high as 36 percent.

This was seen to become more pronounced as women age, jumping to 52 percent for women aged 24 to 28 forming their first union and a surprising 78 percent for women aged 30 to 34.

When examining women entering their second unions, those aged 24 to 28 who cohabitated were found 148 percent more likely to marry and have that marriage last 12 years. That number jumps to 187 percent for women aged 30 to 34.

Data for the research came from a previous health study involving 2,761 women born in the first half of the 1960s, each periodically surveyed between 1979 and 2008.

The findings were recently published in the journal Population Research and Policy Review:

Advertiser Disclosure is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.