Shacking Up Before Marriage Won't Doom Your Relationship After All

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Scientists and finger-wagging moms alike have warned you for years not to "live in sin” with your partner before marriage, or it would end in divorce.

But new research from the Council on Contemporary Families suggests that cohabiting couples are no more at risk of breaking up than those who move in together after "I do." A more accurate predictor of whether wedded bliss has longevity may be the age at which a pair shacks up, married or not.

“Up until now, we’ve had this mysterious finding that cohabitation causes divorce. Nobody’s been able to explain it. And now we have—it was that people were measuring it the wrong way,” lead researcher Arielle Kuperberg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, told the Christian Science Monitor. It wasn't until Kuperberg began controlling the age variable using data from the National Survey of Family Growth (including more than 7,000 people who were married at least once) that she noticed a pattern: Those who moved in together, whether they had exchanged vows or not, before the age of 23 were most likely to call it quits down the line. [Tweet this fact!]

One reason 20-somethings should hold off packing their bags to make the big move? Maturity. While you're still sorting out your personal life and career aspirations, it's much harder to pick the right life partner, who may also be working on his or her goals. Waiting until you're older, more established, and more equipped to negotiate and compromise before you share a roof, bills, and chores may improve your relationship's long-term success.

Do you agree that it's better to wait until you're older to shack up? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!

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