A study directed by a professor at Cornell University recently examined 61 heterosexual couples from Columbus, Ohio. All of them were cohabiting and had been doing so for at least three months at the time they were surveyed.
According to the results, more than two-thirds of the study group was afraid to face the potential economic, social, legal and emotional consequences that may come with a divorce. Many of them were also worried about their ability to form a long-lasting marriage.
The respondents to this study varied in age from 18 to 36 years old. They were classified as middle or working class based on occupational status, annual income and education.
A majority of respondents viewed co-habitation as an attempt to better understand their relationship's ability to weather the test of time. Many wanted to only get married once and worried about doing it right, leading them to live with their significant other before jumping in blind.
Some of the data collected by the study showed that many of those surveyed did not believe that the rewards of marriage were worth the potential separation that could eventually occur. As a result, high divorce rates were cited. Researchers believe that these high rates may be causing some of the marital hesitation many of these couples are experiencing.
While trying to better understand the views of cohabitors on marriage, the study found that there were several differences between classes. Working-class respondents more often saw marriage as a piece of paper or a trap that could lead to an increase in domestic responsibilities without a similar amount of benefits. Middle-class cohabitors saw marriage in a more favorable light and were more likely to see cohabiting as a step toward getting married.
Source: Futurity, "Divorce fears keep couples unhitched," Ted Boscia-Cornell, Dec. 28, 2011