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Helen Smith

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March 13, 2014 - 3:00 pm

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An article from the Christian Science Monitor discusses how social scientists have been studying the wrong variable when it comes to cohabitation and divorce:

For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

It doesn’t. And it probably never has. …

As it turns out, those studies that linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable, says Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who produced much of the research released Monday. The biggest predictor of divorce, she says, is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / Solomonkein

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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I remember reading years ago that couples that lived together before marriage had exactly the same divorce rate as couples who hadn't lived together first. I remember thinking that if it made no difference, what was the point in a 'test drive' since it didn't seem to affect the ultimate outcome.



39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think Samuel Johnson in 'Rasselas"
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now the question is how much maturity has to do with age. People talk about contemporary western civilization like we've figured something out, but often we've just figured out how to put off being grown ups.

I've known 19 year olds mature enough to marry, and 29 year olds that aren't (my opinion of course, but shown correct by how their relationships turned out). If this is accepted as the new knowledge it may wind up being as worthless to individuals as any statistic.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The primary cause of divorce is marriage.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Trees are the number one cause of forest fires :-)
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
And the primary cause of failure is trying?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
What if divorce is caused by earlier puberty? Is there s juvenile hormone for humans?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've heard claims that puberty is happening earlier these days, especially among females. I've heard that girls see the onset of puberty as early as nine now. (I'm not sure what percentage of girls have such an early puberty, just that it is more than it used to be.) There has been speculation that growth hormones used in cattle which pass into the human food chain are the cause of this but I don't think anyone has proven it.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was girls growing up without their Bio-Daddy in the household.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Like burning down the house for a bit o' toast" -- Benny Hill
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or maybe the type of people more likely to divorce are also the type more likely to shack up.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've wondered the same thing. It just seems that someone who wants to test drive a relationship might be more likely to ditch it, even after marriage. And someone (especially in this day and age) that insists on the vows first may be less likely to bail later.

No matter, corollary is not causation.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Human?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, that would be my basic explanation.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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