It's often said that that living together before marriage puts couples at greater risk for divorce later on -- but it turns out that may not be the case at all.
A new study by associate professor Arielle Kuperberg from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that there is no correlation between cohabiting before marriage and divorce; instead, what may predict divorce in those who cohabitate before marriage is the age at which they choose do so.
Kuperberg explained that couples who shack up before marriage tend to be younger, and because marrying at a young age increases the likelihood of divorce, it appeared in previous research that cohabitation did as well. But Kuperberg says that's not the case; once you control for the age variable, the correlation between divorce and cohabitation disappears.
"The problem is that the couples are settling down at an earlier age, and settling down too young is what leads to divorce," she told The Huffington Post.
Kuperberg came to this conclusion after studying data on thousands of married women in the U.S. from the National Survey of Family Growth from the years 1995, 2002 and 2006 to 2010. Her findings were recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
The research is especially important, Kuperberg told The Huffington Post, because "it turns conventional wisdom on its head."
"For decades research has shown that cohabitation leads to divorce, and for the first time we can definitively say that cohabitation doesn't lead to divorce and never did -- that those earlier findings were a result of an incorrect measurement," she said.
It's important to note that the study does not delve into whether or not living together before marriage could lead to better marriages; it simply says that it won't make them worse.
What do you think: Is living together before marriage a good or bad idea?