Investigate development case: cohabitation exercise

MAKE A DECISION: Do you recommend that James and Maria move in together?

  1. Yes, they should move in together.
  2. James and Maria should move in together only after James works on XYZ.
  3. They should move in together only after Maria works on XYZ.
  4. No, they should not move in together.

Why? Give reasons for why you chose the way you did. Consider the following factors in your reasons:

  • James and Maria’s respective family backgrounds
  • James and Maria’s respective expectations of the relationship
  • James and Maria’s respective values and beliefs
  • Financial factors


Instructions: Go through the interactive module and use the first box below it to take notes as you progress through the exercise.

Findings from research on cohabitation varies depending on the country and ethnic origin of the persons being studied. We have concentrated on the US for this module.

· Cohabitation has increased dramatically in the US over the past three decades, climbing from 500,000 couples in 1970 to nearly 5 million couples in 2000 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001). Currently, about 18 million adults are cohabitating, which is a 29% increase since 2007 (Pew Research Center, 2017).

· Research by Manning and Smock (2005) and Stanley et al. (2006) indicates that few people make a deliberate decision to begin cohabitation. Instead, it seems to happen gradually, often without clear communication between partners about the meaning of the transition.

· Although cohabitation has become increasingly prevalent across other groups, it continues to be a trend driven by those with fewer economic resources (Sassler, 2004; Sassler & Miller, 2011).

Increasingly, couples are choosing to live together before, or instead of, getting married.

· Most couples say they decide to marry each other based on positive connections, such as fun, friendship, and passion (Sternberg, 1998). When couples divorce or separate, reasons include not having enough commitment, too much conflict, infidelity, and growing apart. (Johnson et al 2002).

· Some research shows that couples who live together before getting engaged or married say they’re less satisfied in their marriages and are more likely to get divorced (Stanley et al. 2010; Kamp Dush et al. 2003; Cohan and Kleinbaum, 2002). This is known as the “cohabitation effect.”

· Research shows that an unstable family background (e.g. divorced parents) makes young adults more cautious about marriage and increases their uncertainty about their ability to weather relationship difficulties (Sassler et al. 2009).

Relationships between human beings are complex and the factors affecting them are numerous. Here are a few:

· Many studies have shown that successful communication is a key factor in predicting marriage and relationship satisfaction many years later (Gottman et al. 1998).

· Research shows that economic hardship is associated with more conflict among cohabiting couples (Hardie & Lucas, 2010).

· Attachment theory states that children develop an attachment style based on the type of relationship they have with their primary caregiver (e.g. parents) (Bowlby, 1969: 1982). Subsequent research has found that the attachment style that an individual develops during childhood influences later interactions with intimate partners (Bretherton et al. 1999; Crowell et al. 1999).

· Economics is a key factor affecting young adults’ relationship quality. Research links financial instability to the dissolution of both marriages and cohabiting unions (Amato et al. 1997; Burstein, 2007; Hoffman & Duncan, 1995; Kalmijn et al. 2007; Smock et al. 2005; South 2001).

Do you think James and Maria should move in together?

Social media conversation

Hope: Wow! You guys are really gonna do this?!

Maria: Yes, I’m so excited! He asked me on our three-year anniversary! It was so romantic! My card from him had a door key and a tiny toothbrush in it. (smile emoji)

Hope: You’re the only one of us four girls who’ve been brave enough to even think about it! Mom and Dad are going crazy… “Living in sin” and all that!

Maria: I know, I’ve tried talking to them, but they won’t listen, they’re pretty mad at me. I’m pretty sure we’ll get engaged this year, so it won’t be “sinful” for long. (smile emoji)

Hope: As long as you’re happy. I think sometimes me, Helena, and Ana wished we’d done the same before we all got married. (wink emoji)

And have you talked to James about the fact that your guys’ apartment is going to be taken over by hoards of your crazy friends every other night of the week? And that you spend all the money from your new job on clothes?!

Maria: Ha! Well, he knows I spend lots of time with my friends and thinks it’s a good thing. I’ll only have them over when he’s out and we can go their places too so he gets some peace and quiet! And shopping means that I always have nice clothes (wink emoji).

Please will you be my advocate whenever you talk to Mom and Dad?!

Hope: Sure. You know I’ll try my best, but Mom’s Catholic views are not gonna die easily!

Email conversation 

To Lauren,
July 04, 2015, 09:36 a.m.
E-mail subject: Hey!

Yo Sis,

How’s the clan? Happy Fourth of July! Hope you guys are having a great day.

So, my news is that I asked Maria to move in with me! She’s given notice on her lease and will move in next month. I’m pretty excited right now to be honest! She’s amazing and still makes me really happy (smiley emoji). I know I’m not the easiest person to live with sometimes, ha! You should know! But this time it will be different. She makes me talk about things and I haven’t ever done that before.

I’m glad you guys have all had a chance to meet her a few times and that you like her, that’s important to me. She really wants to get married and I’m coming round to that idea, believe it or not (!). I know I said I never would and I thought Mom and Dad really messed that up for me with the horrible thing that they had together, but it turns out I’m not a lost cause after all.

Her parents are giving us a really hard time, and I’m actually going to see her Dad this weekend and try and talk to him and explain where I’m coming from. I guess I do intend to ask her to marry me at some point soon, I just need a little bit more time as I really never thought I’d do it. Oh, and I’m saving really hard for an amazing ring! I hope I can help him understand that I have honorable intentions…!

How is Mom anyway? I haven’t seen her yet this year, though I suppose I ought to soon.

Other news, work is slow right now and that has meant finances are a little tighter than usual. Hopefully I can take care of that soon. Freelancing is a tough business!

Right, I’ll call you in a couple of days when my favorite niece and nephew are around so I can catch up with them.

Meantime, send my love to everyone.


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