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Experts Ask, 'Can This Cohabitation Be Saved?'

It seems more unmarried couples chose to live together during the recession -- a 13 percent increase from 2009 to 2010, according to the results of ASES, the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. At the same time, the number of marriages continues to decline, as did the divorce rate. Ifyou are part of an unmarried couple in Illinois, take note: Your cohabitation won't last if it was based on financial need.

The ASES questionnaire asked respondents about their employment status as well as their marital status and household arrangements. What the survey tells us is that the driving force behind the increase in cohabitation is not so much romance as it is money. The 2010 data show that both partners are employed in 49 percent of cohabiting couples. In 2008, that number was 59 percent.

Researchers say that couples coming together for economic reasons during the recession are particularly "fragile." If their income stays low, they are less likely to get married, and if they do get married, they are more likely to get divorced. The data tells a sad story: True love cannot withstand severe financial stress.

Americans still view cohabitation as a temporary, pre-marriage arrangement. Couples combine households to save up for the wedding, and weddings are coming with steeper and steeper price tags.

Ideally, the decision to cohabitate should involve the same amount of thought and consideration as the decision to marry. If financial troubles can cause conflict in the most devoted couple, regardless of their marital status, couples who cohabitate for the "wrong" reasons are even more at risk.

Resource: Newsweek "Does 'Living in Sin' Still Lead to Divorce?" 10/6/10

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