• Nay

Nay Says: The Significant Roles of Cohabitation & Ambiguity

Psychologists Scott Stanley, Galena Rhoades, and Frank Fincham explore cohabitation in emerging adults, and how that is connected to relationship ambiguity.



Cohabitation involves the act of living with your significant other, and is often referenced to those unmarried couples who share the same residence. Relationship ambiguity represents an uncertainty and an unclearness of the dynamic and nature of a relationship. Some studies suggest that cohabitation before marriage is a form of ambiguity.


Almost 70% of couples live together before they get married. By the age of 24, 43% of women will have cohabitated at least once, while the average age that women get married is at age 25.


Premarital cohabitation is related to relationship instability and relationship exiting. Those couples who cohabitated after being married, show no connection for high risk of marital distress relative to those who cohabitated before marriage.


It is interesting to keep in mind that:

· The main reason people cohabitate before marriage is to spend more time together.

· The second reason was for convenience.

· The third reason was to try to show a sign of commitment.



Nay Says

This study provides and objective and evidence-based point of view on cohabitation. It is interesting to see the reasons why people may want to cohabitate premaritally, even though it may cause harm to their relationship.

I believe people are not aware of this information, and are subject to avoidable distress. It needs to be promoted more outside of the relationship science community. Granted individual circumstances may leave people with limited options on what they decide to do when it comes to cohabitation, but I believe at the very least, being aware of this information while navigating your relationship may help couples manage the ambiguous nature of their relationship a bit more.


For more information on this study: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-22633-012



Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Fincham, F. D. (2011). Understanding romantic relationships among emerging adults: The significant roles of cohabitation and ambiguity. In F. D. Fincham & M. Cui (Eds.), Romantic relationships in emerging adulthood (pp. 234-251). New York: Cambridge University Press.