Cohabitation before marriage on the rise

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Couples face another large decision, whether or not to tie the knot.
A new study shows cohabitating is becoming the new normal for more and more long-term couples in America.

Over the last 18 years the percentage of couples cohabitating before getting married has increased drastically as more couples leave behind religious values and focus more on the financial and other benefits of living together.

"I moved in with him, and then we've been together since, jumping from houses to houses, roommates that didn't work, and parents", said Dawn and Josh Giller.

Dawn and Josh Giller have been married 8 years, but lived together three years before getting hitched.

They're part of a growing trend, a new study from the national center for health statistics show within three years of co-habitating, 40-percent had transitioned to marriage, 32-percent continued living together and 27-percent had broken up.

The Giller's say their co-habitation created a solid foundation for their future, and gave them a better opportunity to get to know each other.

"I went to school during the day, while he went to school during the day and worked. So we had very short periods of time, but we didn't have to try to schedule a date, we could show up together at the house and that was our date", said Dawn and Josh Giller.

Dating and then marriage used to be how families were started, and some say returning to more traditional values is what society needs.

"Come back to god, come back to the standards, come back to the way god designed it, come back to the way god intended it to be, and the way that the world is going now, is not the way god intended it to be”, said Chris Cline of Christian Counseling Center.

Cline says much of society has put religion behind material things. Part of the study showed working class families have high standards for marriage and don't believe they can meet them.

The study, which examined data from 2006 to 2010, found nearly 48 percent of women cohabited with their male partner as a first union...compared to 43 percent in 2002.

But those high standards don’t stop some couples from having kids before marriage. And 19 percent of those women ended up having kids in the first year of living with their partner.

Family Counseling Center's Steve Landman sees the financial benefits of living together, but says that shouldn't be a couples only consideration.

“One of my concerns is the higher rate of domestic violence. Is it because of a lack of commitment that is something that needs to be researched”, said Landman.

The study says the percentage of women who cohabited as a first union increased for all races and ethnic groups except for Asian women. Researchers say education plays a role, and 70 percent of women without a high school diploma cohabited as a first union...compared to the 47 percent of those with a bachelor's degree or higher.