Re-thinking Cohabitation!

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are the new family role model as cohabitation becomes an American institution. While celebrities living together is nothing new, what is new is that it has gone mainstream, become widely accepted and wildly popular.

Years of condemnation appear to be backfiring as many cohabitating couples reject the guilt-laden attempts to discourage their living arrangement. Instead, most cohabiters fear a failed marriage even more than the criticism, so opt to live together despite the odds. Now over 60% of all couples who marry will cohabite first and rates of cohabitation will skyrocket since 75% of high school students believe living together is worthwhile and harmless.

Additionally, new studies show that the once negative stigma about cohabitation is changing which helps produce more extensive information about cohabiters and more sophisticated research methods. New findings from a Cornell study show that the odds of divorce among women who married their only cohabiting partner were 28% lower than among women who never cohabited before marriage. Other studies found that women who only cohabited with their husband had lower rates of divorce than women who went straight to marriage.

I think we must "reinvent" and raise our expectations of cohabitation, and our attitudes toward those who decide to live together. There is a commonly held myth that marriage means you will "live happily ever-after." However, there is no similar assumption of cohabitation other than "it won't last" which helps create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's time to take a serious and non-judgmental look at cohabitating couples of all ages and help them strengthen and sustain their relationship. Let's consider finding a new approach to this reality.

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