Thursday, December 9, 2010

Teens Expect to Cohabit Before Marriage

I am constantly reminded that, just as every person is unique, every family is quite unique as well. What seems to work for some families may not work for others, whether it’s how they form their relationships or how they parent their children. Even among my own friends and relatives, what one person considers “normal,” others may think of as unacceptable. Such is the case with cohabitation before (or instead of) marriage.

Following in the footsteps of the Boomers, who redefined marriage and family in so many ways, today’s young adults often consider cohabitation not only “normal,” but almost think of it as a prerequisite to marriage. My daughter has already announced to me that she would never think about marrying someone without having lived with them – “cause you just don’t know what they’re really like until you live with them.” I cannot disagree with her about that!

In a recent study published in The Journal of Marriage and the Family, researchers found that not all teens expect to cohabit before they tie the knot, yet most still expect to marry. In fact, three quarters of the teens studied report having definite or probably expectations to marry in the future, and one quarter of those have no intention to cohabit prior to marriage. Still, about half of the teens report they expect to live with their future spouse prior to marriage. However, these teens also did not see cohabitation as a replacement for marriage.

Researchers also found that adolescents’ expectations to cohabit are based in part on two very important influences; their interactions with the opposite sex (including sexual activity as teens) and how their parents communicate their own values.

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