In Canada, between 2006 and 2011, the number of Common Law couples rose 13.9% while the number of married couples nudged upwards only 3.1%.
Since 2011, the pattern seems to be persisting.
Additional number crunching would suggest that about 25% of adults currently aged 25-34 will still not be married well into their 50s. In other words, a lot of Millennials will never get married to anything but their Netflix subscription.
Many of us ask, “Is this trend of marriage decline a good thing or a bad thing?” That’s tough to say, but as far as the numbers are concerned, we’re probably just as happy because of it.
A recently published study out of The Ohio State University, based on data collected from a national survey, revealed that in relationships beyond their very first, people showed essentially the same emotional boost (or drop in emotional distress) simply moving in with their partners as they did jumping straight into marriage.
As study co-author Sara Mernitz puts it, “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.”
While there have been studies showing that people live longer and healthier lives when they are officially “married”, more recent research has shown these benefits to only affect men. On top of that, the reasons why marriage impacts health are largely related to stress and isolation – two things that develop and dissolve during unlicensed cohabitation just as they do during more heavily documented versions of love.
One angle often debated between the two sides is the legal ramifications of common law versus marriage. Laws vary by Province, but as a whole, the major “enhancements” automatically applied with the act of marriage deal with rights in the event of separation and death. For instance, after separation, common law members are not entitled to equal sharing of total property and are not entitled to spousal support unless cohabitation has persisted for three years or there is a child involved (there’s much more nuance involved, but that’s the meat of it).
Despite the automation factor, however, these are all rights that can be easily acquired or abandoned through cohabitation agreements or prenuptial agreements respectively.
Ultimately, as most of us are coming to appreciate, it comes down to what you want. If what you want is zero-effort access to half of someone’s stuff in the event of a sh***y stroke of luck, then snag that marriage license. If what you want is to be happy, then maybe just share a pad for a while and have a lot of morning sex. When it comes to your psychological wellbeing, there’s research to suggest that that’s as good a setup as any.
That being said, the data didn’t cover polygamy…