American attitudes toward marriage have undergone changes in recent years, with shifts toward an increased acceptance of nontraditional family forms. Data show that Americans are developing increasingly favorable attitudes toward nontraditional family structures, such as cohabitation. While most American adolescents express positive attitudes toward marriage and a desire to become married themselves, more and more are accepting of nontraditional marital activities such as cohabitation and premarital sex. Rates of cohabitation are on the rise among American couples. These nontraditional attitudes and increasing rates of cohabitation have several consequences for well-being. Cohabiting couples face challenges that are unique from married couples, due in part to the fact that their relationships may be considered "incompletely institutionalized." Research has shown that couples who cohabit prior to marriage have less stable marriages and are more likely to divorce than couples who did not cohabit prior to marriage. (Author abstract)
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