Is cohabitation better than marriage?

Cohabiting couples often experience higher levels of happiness and self-esteem than those who are married. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, which revealed partners who have tied the knot experience few psychological advantages when compared with those who live together but have not walked down the aisle.

The investigation found that while being in a relationship provides more benefits of this kind than being single, these can reduce over time once the honeymoon period has ended.

Dr Kelly Musck, Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, noted more people in western societies have embraced cohabitation in recent decades, despite marriage remaining to be seen as an important social institution.

"These changes have blurred the boundaries of marriage, leading to questions about what difference marriage makes in comparison to alternatives," Dr Musick pointed out.

Dr Lynne Jordan, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Many believe marriage adds to the quality of commitment and this is not always the case since these days many are careful to spell out what the relationship is involving when preparing to cohabit.

"The expectations and fears etc explicitly spelled out. Whereas many time marriage preparation is scant and has assumptions of romantic love carrying through etc. therefore people are less likely to be specific about expectations.

"This can negatively affect happiness levels in relationships whether married or otherwise!"