Document Type

Oral Presentation


Low premarital intimacy and less-than-realistic marital expectations have been shown to successfully predict lower marital satisfaction and success. This study used an independent groups design to investigate the effect of cohabitation on intimacy and marital expectations among engaged adult individuals. Group I (n=30) consisted of engaged individuals cohabiting with their fiances and Group II (n=82) included engaged individuals not cohabiting. Participants were obtained through a convenience sample. All participants provided demographic data and completed the Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships (PAIR) and the Marriage Expectations Scale (MES). Previously married participants were excluded from MES analysis due to the nature of that scale.

The current understanding of cohabitation's effect on relationships is incomplete due to a number of limitations in the existing research. This study was designed to fill the void created by two specific limitations. First, it addresses the limitation created by studies primarily drawing conclusions about cohabitation's effect on marital variables after marriage has already occurred. Although studies investigate variables within the current or dissolved marriage, they are unable to determine whether the traits that led to lower satisfaction/success developed during the marriage or whether they were displayed before marriage. By using individuals who have not yet married, this study identifies whether lower intimacy and less-than-realistic marital expectations exist before marriage. Second, this study addresses the limitation created by research that exclusively studies dating couples when investigating pre-marital cohabitation. Research has shown that the relationship dynamics of serious couples are significantly different from those of couples casually dating. By examining only individuals committed to marriage through engagement, this study uses a sample clearly distinct from the samples used in other investigations.

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Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2003 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA