The union of marriage has held a specific ideal in the minds of people since it was first instituted hundreds of years ago. However, over the decades, new ideas about the union have become changed, and the cohabitation of two people has become almost acceptable in the walk toward marital bliss. Most Western countries do not have issues with people living together as a couple without being married, and this has led to the concept becoming main stream for future generations (Budinski & Trovato, 2005).
However, there is a dark side to co-habitation. Ronald Budinski and Frank Trovato conducted a study in 2005 on the assumption that premarital cohabitation would more likely end up in the dissolution of the marriage than those who did not cohabitate prior to marriage. They published their findings in the article, “The Effects of Premarital Cohabitation on Marital Stability over the Duration of Marriage. ” It can be found in the 32nd volume, issue 1 of the Canadian Studies in Population journal.
The results and findings create a new way of considering the stability of marriage in relation to cohabitation and non-cohabitation. The legitimization of cohabitation and the redefining of the term to be a “substitute for marriage” (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 70) is seen in many Western countries and is the basis for a new brand of research into this new type of union on the fundamental union of marriage. The purpose of the study conducted by Budinski and Trovato (2005) was to find out if the “marital duration-dependent” existed in relation to cohabitation (pg 70).
Their focus was on two main factors: the explanations for any fluctuation of the duration-dependent affect, and to find other factors that would influence the duration-dependency between those who cohabitate and those who do not cohabitate (Budinski & Trovato, 2005). The two researchers decided on two questions they needed to answer that took the main factors into consideration. The first part of the hypothesis is the belief that premarital cohabitation is more likely produce the dissolution of the marital union.
The second phase of the hypothesis tests the theory that the risk of marital dissolution is reduced between the two groups the longer the couple is married. They noted five separate outcomes that could occur in regard to the stability of the marriage and cohabitation, but their real focus was on the event and causes of marital dissolution (Budinski & Trovato, 2005). Many believe that cohabitation is a short-term commitment. Researchers have created two theories in which to explain the phenomena of cohabitation.
The first is the “selective thesis” (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 72) which defines those people who prefer cohabitation as individuals that have a problem with staying or dealing with a stable relationship. The second theory is the “experience theory” (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 72) that cohabitation can create negative views of marriage and positive views of divorce. Most of the previous research conducted supported one or both of these theories. However, in more recent studies, the convergence of equality in marital dissolution seems to be more of the norm than in previous years.
This area is still quite new and still being scrutinized by researchers unable to acknowledge without proof that cohabitation is not a major factor in marital dissolution (Budinski & Trovato, 2005). Budinski& Trovato (2005) used a previously compile source of data in the 1995 Canadian General Social Survey: Cycle 10: The Family (GSS-95). The sample included all people ages fifteen and up in 10 Canadian provinces, excluding the Yukon and Northwestern territories. The response rate was 81% or 10,749 individuals.
Once those respondents that did not have the necessary data were removed the total number of subjects included in the study numbered 7, 187 individuals that had the required data to conduct the study on premarital cohabitation and marital dissolution (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 75). The study used a multivariate model analysis founded on the Proportional Hazards (PH) Model (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 75). The first aspect of this model was the hazard function that valued the probability of the dissolution of the marital union in relation to time and other controlled variables.
They used this function as the baseline to estimate the durations of time prior to marital dissolution. In essence, the dependent variable was the length of time a couple stayed married prior to separation or divorce, with covariates including age, religiousness, education, contraceptive use, region, as well as several other variables. It was assumed that each working in the equation to correlate with cohabitation and marital dissolution since each of the covariates had been previously associated with instability in the marriage union (Budinski & Trovato, 2005).
The overall result of this study by Budinski & Trovato (2005) was the fact that there was not a significant difference in the dissolution of the marital union in relation to those how did not cohabitate and those who cohabitated prior to marriage. Because of this result, they focused on the covariates to see which created a significant relation between dissolution of marriage and cohabitation. The covariant of age has a definite relation to cohabitation and the dissolution of the marital union.
In fact, women who were 5 years or older than their spouse were more likely to have a marriage end in divorce. This correlation tended to be 4 and ? times greater a risk than couples who were the same age. Education or lack of education was a predictor of dissolution as well. Eighty percent of men that had only a small amount of post-secondary education were likely to have a marriage end in divorce whether they cohabitated or not. Religion also proved to be a factor with 83-100% of those individuals that did not attend religious services on a weekly basis were likely to have a marriage end.
The only time that cohabitation proved to correlate to the dissolution of a marriage was when the age and contraceptive use were excluded from the analysis. Only then was there a small but relatively significant relation (Budinski & Trovato, 2005). This study showed that there were only basic correlations between the concept of cohabitation and the dissolution of marriage. The fact that to gain any significant relevance requires the exclusion of two main covariates says much about how cohabitation and divorce or separation related to one another.
There were five covariates that did show some relation. These include one or both of the individuals having experienced parental marital dissolution, living within certain territories, religion, spouse being in a cohabitational relationship prior to current relationship, and the use of contraceptive. However, cohabitation alone did not significantly influence the divorce and separation rates in Canada’s 10 territories that were part of this study (Budinski & Trovato, 2005).
One factor that was discovered and not added to this or any study was the concept of “serial cohabitation” (Budinski & Trovato, 2005, pg 87) which is when an individual has more than one cohabitating relationship during adult life. This is a relatively new type of relationship and future studies will have to take this type of cohabitating relationship into account when looking at the union of marriage in relation to cohabitation and non-cohabitation (Budinski & Trovato, 2005).
As the world changes and the societal values change, the old institutions of marriage and family will change as well. Life and society are not static, but they are predictable in some fashion. The emergence of cohabitation as a viable step in marriage started in force in the 1970’s. Today this concept is accepted and acknowledged as a legitimate union even prior to marriage. Not all cohabitational relationships will end in marriage, but many will and the chances of their remaining married in relation to those individuals who did not cohabitate is changing as well.
The fact is that marriage and cohabitation are not really separate or relational. There are other factors that are more influential on the dissolution of the marriage and it are these variables that need to be considered in closer examination to have a better understanding of the factors of cohabitation, marriage, and the dissolution of a relationship.
Budinski, R. A. , & Trovato, F. (2005). The effects of premarital cohabitation on marital stability of the duration of marriage. [Electronic version]. Canadian Studies in Population , 32, 69-95.