Northern Illinois University

Project Description

The Influence of Different Cohabitation Purposes on Relationship Quality

Project Abstract

The purpose of this study is exploratory in nature and will aim to obtain a more comprehensive picture of cohabiters and their relationships. The research question is: Does the purpose for cohabitation influence the current relationship quality of cohabiting couples? This research is necessary because much of the literature about cohabitation has not made distinctions among cohabiters, even though cohabiters may have very diverse expectations, meanings, purposes, or intentions that they attribute to their cohabitation experience. Couples with different purposes for cohabitation may have variations in relationship quality that could influence relationship outcomes; further, their attitudes and expectations for their relationship may be related to relationship trajectories Next, cohabitation often has been explored in terms of its relation to future relationship outcomes, particularly marital instability and divorce. However, research has failed to confirm that every cohabiting couple has increased risks of negative relationship quality or negative outcomes in marriage. Therefore, a better understanding of the nature of cohabiting relationships before marriage will increase our knowledge about the mediators between cohabitation and future outcomes, including relationship trajectories, transitions to marriage, negative marital quality or instability, or higher risks of divorce. Finally, the meaning and significance of cohabitation in the U.S. will continue to evolve depending on who cohabits and for what reasons. The hypothesis is that purpose for cohabiting will influence couples´┐Ż relationship quality. Specifically, "precursor to marriage" cohabiters and "substitute for marriage" cohabiters will report higher overall relationship quality than will "trial marriage" or "coresidential dating" cohabiters.

Surveys released for this project:
Cohabiting Relationships Survey 99
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