Study finds cohabiting couples have same emotional benefits as married ones

Dec 9, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Image: Hero Images/ Getty Images

You may dream of walking down the aisle in a white wedding gown, but will getting married actually make you happier than if you relinquished the ceremony all together?

More: Fewer couples are choosing to live together before tying the knot

A study published in Journal of Family Psychology found that there is actually very little difference in emotional benefits between cohabiting with your partner and marrying them. Researchers surveyed 8,700 heterosexual people, born between 1980 and 1984, and each participant was resurveyed every year during the period of 10 years from 2000 to 2010 to determine their level of emotional distress.

Researchers discovered that young women experienced a decline in emotional distress when they moved in with a romantic partner or when they got married for the first time. But men experienced a drop in emotional distress only when they were married for the first time.

More: Beware of the Christmas couples crisis that can torpedo your marriage

However, this changed as relationships matured: Both men and women reported an emotional boost, regardless of whether they were married or living together.

According to EurekAlert!, Sara Mernitz, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in human sciences at Ohio State University, commented on the findings. She said, "Now it appears that young people, especially women, get the same emotional boost from moving in together as they do from going directly to marriage. There's no additional boost from getting married."

"At one time, marriage may have been seen as the only way for young couples to get the social support and companionship that is important for emotional health," said Claire Kamp Dush, Ph.D., co-author of the study, EurekAlert! reports. "[But] it's not that way anymore. We're finding that marriage isn't necessary to reap the benefits of living together."

More: Adorable puppy helps man pull off the cutest marriage proposal (WATCH)

We're not knocking marriage at all, but it may take the pressure off a lot of people who don't think this is the right route for their relationship.

Do you agree with the study? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments