The emotional benefits of living together as a couple are the same regardless of whether they tied the knot or not, according to a team of researchers who investigated the level of emotional distress among 8,700 participants. The findings are published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
The individuals were surveyed over 10 years to find out whether the transition from merely living together to getting married was characterised by an increase in emotional boost (as was the case some decades ago).
It appears that the general perception of people on marriage has changed drastically: one of the authors, Claire Kamp Dush from Ohio State University, explains that marriage is no more considered to be the only means for young couples to obtain social support and companionship that boosts emotional health.
The researchers conclude that the emotional benefits of living together can be reaped without getting married.
Any difference spotted by the researchers pertained to whether the relationship was the first serious one, or a second one. While men experienced greater emotional boost after marriage (than after living together) for their first serious relationship, women’s emotional boost at both decisions were more or less the same. This difference might be because of men using cohabiting to test a relationship. However, the gender difference is no more there for the second serious relationship: men and women had similar emotional boosts after moving in together and after marriage.
Kamp Dush speculates that the couples might be choosing partners better for them at the second time such that there is a decrease in emotional distress.
The team does add that the study data might not have covered other benefits of marriage.