Women experience the same drop in “emotional distress” from cohabiting as they do from marriage according to new research.
Academics at Ohio State University analysed data from a national social survey to look at the different ways men and woman experienced the start of living together with a new partner and marriage.
They concluded that there was no difference in the emotional reactions women have to cohabitation and marriage, but noted that this did not apply to men who do not experience a comparable fall in “emotional distress” when living together for the first time. However, this did occur if they bypassed cohabitation and married their partners.
Similar falls in emotional distress were seen in both men and women when they married for a second time or began living with another partner.
Speaking to the Washington Post, researcher Sara E. Mernitz suggested that the gender differences might be down to men viewing cohabitation less seriously, as a “trial run” before marriage view woman, by contrast, perceiving it as a sign of serious commitment.
Fellow researcher Claire Kamp Dush highlighted the social changes which have led cohabitation to now be widely regarded as a viable alternative to marriage.
“At one time marriage may have been seen as the only way for young couples to get the social support and companionship that is important for emotional health.”
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