Is living-in now a good idea because ‘it’s 2017’? A Reply To Nadine Lustre

Photo: ABS-CBN
by Anna Cosio

Yesterday, I stumbled upon the news about local actress Nadine Lustre addressing circulating rumors that she was already cohabiting with her boyfriend James Reid. She neither denied nor confirmed the news and implied that it should not even be a big deal even if the rumors were true. “It’s 2017… If that was true, so what? There are younger couples who do that… It’s normal na… Come on, guys,” she said in an interview. When asked for a message for her fans, she said, “Let’s all just be open-minded.”

But is cohabitation or “living-in” suddenly a good idea just because “it’s 2017”? I’m afraid sociological studies say the opposite, and I hope that Ms. Lustre will also be “open-minded” enough to consider what numerous sociologists have found regarding the effects of “living-in”. Here is a summary of their common findings:

–Premarital cohabitation has been shown to be associated with higher rates of divorce in several U. S. samples.[1] Most couples who live together never get married, but those who do have a divorce rate up to 80% higher than those who waited until after the wedding to live together.[2]

–Couples who cohabited prior to marriage also have greater marital conflict and poorer communication, and they make more frequent visits to marriage counselors. Compared to those who did not cohabit premaritally, those who did cohabit have lower marital satisfaction.[3][4][5]

–Women who cohabited before marriage are more than three times as likely as women who did not, to cheat on their husbands within marriage.[6]

–The U.S. Justice Department found that women who cohabit are 62 times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband.[7]

–Women who cohabit are more than three times as likely to be depressed as married women.[8]

–Cohabiting couples are less sexually satisfied than those who waited for marriage.[9]

The foregoing sociological findings, as well as newer studies on cohabitation, clearly show that cohabitation is not the way to go for a successful marriage.[10] And if you’ve noticed, it is even particularly disadvantageous to women. That is why I hope that Ms. Lustre’s younger female fans would not take her word as gospel. Ms. Lustre may be right in her observation that there are many unmarried couples who are already living under one roof and that some of them are even younger than she is. But since when did something become right just because many are already doing it? It’s 2017 and by now we already have decades’ worth of studies proving time and again that cohabitation is not a recipe for happiness. It’s already 2017, so by now we should know better.

Editors’ Note: For more recent studies on cohabitation, dated 2012 to 2017, click here: Nadine Lustre, Cohabitation, and the Demand for Approval.

[1] Kamp Dush CM, Cohan CL, Amato PR. The relationship between cohabitation and marital quality and stability: Change across cohorts? Journal of Marriage and Family. 2003;65(3):539–549.
[2] Bunpass and Sweet, Cohabitation, Marriage, and Union Stability: Preliminary Findings from NSFH2 (NSFH Working Paper №65) Center for Demography and Ecology: University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1995; Bennett, et. al., “Commitment and the Modern Union: Assessing the Link Between Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability,” American Sociological Review 53:1 (February, 1988): 127–138.
[3] Elizabeth Thompson and Ugo Colella, “Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment?” Journal of Marriage and the Family 54 (1992): 263; John D. Cunningham and John K. Antill, “Cohabitation and Marriage: Retrospective and Predictive Consequences,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 11 (1994): 90.
[4] Stanley SM, Whitton SW, Markman HJ. Maybe I do: Interpersonal commitment and premarital or nonmarital cohabitation. Journal of Family Issues. 2004;25(4):496–519.
[5] Cohan CL, Kleinbaum S. Toward a greater understanding of the cohabitation effect: Premarital cohabitation and marital communication. Journal of Marriage and Family. 2002;64(1):180–192.
[6] Koray Tanfer and Renata Forste, “Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women,” Journal of Marriage and Family (February 1996): 33–47.
[7] Chuck Colson, “Trial Marriages on Trial: Why They Don’t Work,” Breakpoint, 20 March 1995.
[8] Lee Robins and Darrell Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (New York: Free Press, 1991), 64.
[9] Marianne K. Hering, “Believe Well, Live Well,” Focus on the Family, September 1994, 4.
[10] J Couple Relatsh Ther. 2009 Apr; 8(2): 95–112. doi:



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