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Pre-marriage cohabitation increasingly common

Given the fact that approximately 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce during their first two decades, a good number of couples, including some in Texas, are opting to test the waters first by living together before getting married.

Once widely regarded negatively or thought to indicate poor prospects for future wedded bliss, increasingly cohabitation is regarded as a routine and perhaps prudent measure. A recent survey asked 22,000 people about the issue and many did not view the practice as playing a significant role in predicting the chances of divorce.

In recent years, approximately three out of five couples have lived in the same residence before getting married, a far cry from 50 years ago, when only approximately one out of 10 couples did so. Back then, such live-in relationships were believed to be a factor in the increasing rate of divorce.

A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that engaged couples who cohabited before getting married were no more likely to get divorced in the next 15 years than couples who had not previously lived together. Both types of couples had a 60 percent chance of still being married 15 years later. This was not the case among couples studied who were not engaged, yet lived together, whose chances of remaining married (if they ever tied the knot) for 15 years were only 53 percent.

Because of changing attitudes, many view cohabitation as a trial marriage, a way to test out compatibility while completing their education or beginning a professional career. And unlike in decades past, most cohabiting couples don't bother concealing their living arrangements from their family.

Source: NPR, "Moving In Before Marriage No Longer A Bad Omen?" The Associated Press, March 22, 2012

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