The 'new norm': Most Americans now consider living together before marriage a 'good idea'
The wave of liberalism continues its relentless surge in America with majority of American adults now saying that it's a good idea for couples to live together before deciding to get married.
According to a recent study by the Barna Group, two-thirds of adults (65 percent) think cohabitation before marriage is good, compared to one-third (35 percent) who disagree.
However, religious groups are the least likely to consider cohabitation a good idea.
In its report, the Barna Group says cohabitation has become "the new norm" in America. This is the result of "shifting gender roles and expectations, the delay of marriage, and a secularizing culture," the polling firm says.
But although acceptance of live-in relationship is now widespread in America, there are still "large pockets of resistance ... among religious communities and those who adhere to more traditional values and premarital expectations," it says.
The Barna Group notes that most Christian teachings favour abstinence before marriage and reject cohabitation. The data gathered by the firm reflected these beliefs. The study showed that practicing Christians (41 percent) are highly unlikely to believe cohabitation is a good idea, while those who identify as having no faith (88 percent) believe it's a good one.
The study also showed generational and ideological differences. Millennials (those born between 1984 and 2002) are twice as likely as Elders (those born between 1945 or earlier) to believe cohabitation is a good idea—72 percent against 36 percent.
The division is equally sharp between conservatives and liberals. Liberals more than twice as likely as conservatives to believe cohabitation is a good idea.
Almost all respondents in the survey see cohabitation as a "rite of passage in the path to marriage." They say living with a partner before getting married would be a good test of their compatibility (84 percent). A few others believe it's convenient (9 percent) and would save rent (5 percent).
For those who are against cohabitation, the biggest reason is based on religious ground (34 percent). Of lesser importance were issues of practicality (16 percent), the valuing of family and tradition (12 percent), and other reasons (10 percent).
The survey showed that Americans practice what they believe in when it comes to cohabitation. Almost six in 10 (57 percent) either currently, or have previously lived with their boyfriend or girlfriend—a number very close to the 65 percent who believe it is a good idea.
Analysing the survey results, Barna Group Editor-in-Chief Roxanne Stone says, "America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation. Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood."
She says many of today's young people see marriage as a risky endeavour. "They want to make sure they get it right and to avoid the heartbreak they witnessed in the lives of their parents or their friends' parents. Living together has become a de facto way of testing the relationship before making a final commitment," Stone says.
The study was conducted via online survey from April 7 to April 14, 2016. A total of 1,097 interviews were conducted. The sample error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points at 95-percent confidence level. The completion rate was 85 percent.