Study Finds Increase in Older Americans Not Putting a Ring on it

The Pew Research Center recently reported that the number of people over the age of 50 living with a romantic partner outside of marriage increased by a significant 75 percent from 2007 to 2016. That’s the biggest jump for any age group!

marriageWhile this trend can be partially attributed to the sheer number of baby boomers out there (and that generation’s increasing divorce rate), that’s not the whole story. According to a May article in The New York Times, the phenomenon of older couples living together rather than marrying can also be chalked up to changing attitudes. In other words, happiness has moved higher on their list of priorities than a piece of paper. And quite simply, these older couples are seeing nothing wrong with “shacking up” anymore.

Some of the reasons couples choose to skip the vows and go straight to the happy ending:

No knot to untangle. There are a lot of financial ties to sever and legal hoops to jump through when a marriage ends. While no failed living arrangement is easy to untangle, unmarried partners typically can move on with less muss and fuss.

No taking each other for granted. When couples aren’t married, there’s nothing legally keeping them in the relationship. That means they often treat each other better, with fewer expectations, demands and criticisms of each other. That easier rapport can lead to a healthier and happier relationship.

No sharing of debt. Marriage brings a lot of baggage with it, including your spouse’s debt. However, if you simply live with someone and that someone has money woes, you’re not responsible for them … unless you want to be.

No loss of benefits. If you’re a widow or widower and are drawing Social Security survivor benefits, cohabiting with your partner won’t affect those benefits; whereas, marrying him or her means you’ll have to forfeit them. Your financial assets also won’t keep your partner from qualifying for Medicaid, if they need it.

Share other benefits of cohabitation versus marriage.

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