Cohabitation has been proven to be just as emotionally rewarding as marriage, in a recent study published in the journal of Family Psychology.
A team of experts at Ohio State University, led by Sara Mernitz, PhD student in human sciences, analyzed data which had been collected as part of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
Around 8,700 subjects who had been between 12 and 16 by December 31, 1996 had been included in the poll. Follow-up interviews had been conducted on a yearly basis, until 2010, regarding a wide variety of topics assessing transition into adulthood.
For example, respondents had been asked about their employment status and history, academic qualifications, mental and physical well-being, alcohol and drug use, family issues, as well as romantic relationship patterns.
In this recent study, the emphasis was placed on marital status, and its potential impact on emotional state.
It was determined that women who had first dabbled in cohabitation, by moving in with a significant other, experienced greatly improved moods, and lower levels of stress and anxiety, comparable with those recorded among newlywed wives.
On the other hand, male participants tended to report a detectable boost in their mental state especially after marriage, cohabitation during their first serious romantic relationship not having such a statistically significant effect on their wellbeing.
Apparently, among all respondents, managing to get over their first breakup provided the greatest upsurge in contentment levels, since their following relationship was usually much more satisfying and pleasurable.
Both genders declared that getting married to their second partner or living with that person as a couple had been associated with greater life satisfaction and fewer instances of distress.
In addition, moments where they felt downhearted or morose were more frequent among those without kids than among respondents who had children of their own.
As study co-author Sarah Mernitz explains, up until the 1990’s the prevalent trend was that romantic partners would experience higher levels of happiness upon tying the knot, probably because family was considered an essential source of support and balance.
Cohabitation didn’t have such a strong impact on emotional comfort, since it was seen just as a temporary situation, and a compromise before marriage.
Now, it seems that living with one’s significant other has become just as fulfilling as actually getting married, and being someone’s spouse as opposed to their live-in partner doesn’t necessarily result in extra satisfaction and comfort.
According to Claire Kamp, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Science at Ohio State University, marriage is no longer perceived as the be-all and end-all of one’s life, and greater emphasis is placed on the couple’s overall compatibility and chemistry, even in the absence of a legal union.
The findings are particularly important, as cohabitation has become increasingly more socially acceptable throughout the Western world, causing a growing number of couples to opt for this type of arrangement, which appears less constraining and more alluring than marriage.
Approximately two-thirds of all couples decide to live together, either in order to assess if they would be suited as spouses, or simply for the sake of convenience and togetherness, without even considering the possibility of walking down the aisle later on.
Image Source: Pixabay