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Cohabitation, Marriage can Equally Boost Women’s Emotional Health, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 07, 2015 11:48 AM EST

Women benefit emotionally from cohabitating with or marrying their significant other, a new study reported.

"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," co-author of the study, Sara Mernitz said.

For this study, the researchers from Ohio State University examined 8,700 Americans who were born during the time span of 1980 to 1984. They were interviewed every other year between 2000 and 2010 as a part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.

The researchers found that for single young women, those who moved in with their partner or got married for the first time experienced an increase in their emotional health. The experts noted that marriage did not lead to a higher increase in emotional health than cohabitation did. For men, however, their emotional health increased only after they got married for the first time. Cohabitation did not positively or negatively affect men's emotional wellbeing.

The team also examined the effects of finding love a second time on the emotional health of women and men. This time around, they found that cohabitation and marriage increased emotional health equally for women and men. The researchers noted that women and men experienced less emotional distress the second time around because they were most likely pocking better partners for themselves.

"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," Kamp Dush said in a university news release reported by HealthDay. "It's not that way anymore. We're finding that marriage isn't necessary to reap the benefits of living together, at least when it comes to emotional health. "

Dush stated that their findings suggest that the stigma behind cohabitation prior to marriage is declining. In today's world, about two-thirds of all couples live together before getting married.

There were some factors that could have affected the study. For example, the researchers did not collect information on the quality of the relationships. On top of that, interviewing more frequently could have led to more information regarding to the participants' emotional health.

The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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