A large new report on the effects of cohabitation, led by Pamela Smock, has just been released. Some see it as new evidence that "Cohabiting has little effect on marriage success"as the USA Today head line put it. Others say it shows "Cohabitation Linked to Exponential Increase in Relationship Failure Risk" as LifeSiteNews.com puts it.
Both are right. In fact, these findings are nothing new. For at least a decade it has been clear that people who cohabit before marriage do not improve their chances of marital success. Cohabitation is not a good way to "kick the tires," to test your compatibility. This new study confirms that conclusion. However, there is a big difference between people who are already engaged - with a ring and date - when they start cohabiting, as compared to those who live together with no definite plan for the future.
Engaged cohabiters act more like marrieds. "Just living together" couples do not.