Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960 about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Today the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults will live with someone in a romantic relationship before they marry; and more than half of all marriages will be the result. Statistics show that couples who cohabit before marriage tend to be less satisfied with their marriages, and more likely to divorce, than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

Many couples have a “Relationship Agreement” or “Pre-Prenup” enumerating their  rights and responsibilities. These are different from a Prenuptial Agreement, which is used to protect marital assets in case of divorce or death.

These contracts or agreements are a stripped-down version of cohabitation agreements which gay men and women began writing years ago when states prohibited same-sex marriage. These agreements, which protected finances, often spelled out relationship requirements—they defined the relationship. Pre-Prenups or Relationship Agreements  are often used by heterosexual couples when they decide to live together and not necessarily get married. Relationship Agreements can read like a wish list—a business plan for a successful relationship. But unlike Prenups, these agreements are generally unenforceable in court.

Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment. The standards for a live-in partner can sometimes be lower than they would be for a spouse.

Comments are closed.