In November, 2019, Pew Research Center published their findings in regards to married versus cohabitation partners.
The results are overwhelmingly in favor of married couples.
The debate of whether to get married or not has been something I’ve been exposed to for some time now. It appears some people don’t agree with the “institution” of marriage and what it implies.
Perhaps the debate continues due to overwhelming statistics on divorce in the United States, or due to the trauma caused by our own families. Whatever the case may be, marriage is no longer something humans have to do.
And why do it anyway? Does it make more sense economically? Does marriage look better socially? In the author’s opinion, it certainly makes a difference in regards to commitment and setting the stage for certain expectations.
But others would argue that a ring on your finger and an expensive ceremony don’t make the love that unites two people any deeper; it just makes your wallet that much smaller. For the anti-marriage, cohabiting analytical thinkers and detail-oriented out there, the findings from Pew might change your mind.
The study from Pew sought to find out which group has an overall better life, using metrics of trust, loyalty, honesty, finance, parenting, household chores, work/life balance, communication, and sex. Married couples were ahead on every single metric in the study.
“Majorities of married and cohabiting adults express at least a fair amount of trust in their spouse or partner to be faithful to them, act in their best interest, always tell them the truth and handle money responsibly, but by double digits, married adults are more likely than those who are cohabiting to express a great deal of trust in their spouse or partner in each of these areas.” ~ Pew Research
The data comes at an interesting time, with cohabitation in society at an all-time high and marriage on the decline. According to Pew Research, “The share of U.S. adults who are currently married has declined modestly in recent decades, from 58% in 1995 to 53% today. Over the same period, the share of adults who are living with an unmarried partner has risen from 3% to 7%.” The majority of people just below the age of 30 to individuals 50 and older seem to agree that it’s better in the long-run if couples eventually marry.
Married adults have higher levels of relationship satisfaction and trust than those living with an unmarried partner.
Marriage also seems to make spouses more comfortable with their significant other than any other adult, whereas non-married cohabiters are much less likely to say the same. Pew iterates the point by saying, “Even after controlling for demographic differences between married and cohabiting adults (such as gender, age, race, religion and educational attainment), married adults express higher levels of satisfaction, trust and closeness than those who are living with a partner.”
The reasons why people either marry or cohabitate also differ.
The top reason for both marriage and cohabitation is overwhelmingly due to love and companionship, followed by the desire to make a formal commitment, future children, and financial reasons. Convenience, wanting to test the relationship, and pregnancy were among the lowest reasons. Most adults younger than 30 say couples who live together first are more likely to have a successful marriage, but about six-in-ten say cohabiting couples can raise children just as well as married couples.
Most men and women don’t see marriage as essential to living a fulfilling life.
While the research focuses on metrics of overall happiness in regards to trust, loyalty, honesty, finance, parenting, household chores, work/life balance, communication, and sex, the majority of individuals questioned regard having a job or career that they enjoy among the highest goals in having a fulfilling life. Being married was among the lowest, just under children for women, and having a lot of money for men.
The results are in.
Nothing about the study mentions or discusses the actual “institution” of marriage. No questions about the cost of the wedding ceremony come up, or the history of challenges with extra-marital sex—known in some cultures as infidelity or cheating. The governmental aspect of marriage, the “institution” part of the tradition, doesn’t even come up at all, yet the majority sticks with the idea that the bonds of trust, love, and companionship are tied together by marriage.
Marriage certainly has its financial benefits, and it “feels” more like a commitment, but does it take a relationship to the next level? Is it more than just cohabiting? Besides, one doesn’t have to have an expensive wedding, or any wedding at all.
According to the research, it does seem to matter, and it impacts relationships whether you agree or not.
Maybe it isn’t right for you or your spouse, and maybe it won’t change anything for the better, but from what I’ve seen regarding the clients I’ve worked with, not getting married sends a message to your spouse: I have a few more years of youth and play.
You can see the article, charts and data on the Pew website.