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For example, it used to be the case that a couple who moved in together was very likely to get married—and, engaged or not, had an awareness of this when moving in together. Guzzo wondered if those who already planned marriage before moving in together are as likely as ever to marry while all the likely to marry.

Similarly, she examined if demographic changes in who cohabits, when, and under what circumstances changed the way cohabitation relates to marriage (e.g., analyzing variables such as race, education, and the presence of children from a prior relationship).

Even apart from marriage, I believe that a couple that says they have a lifetime commitment together is telling you something important about a strong level of intention and commitment. First, taken with the growing body of research in this area, I think we are seeing cohabitation headed toward becoming more ambiguous than ever regarding commitment.

Actually, that’s not quite right: Cohabitation seems to be moving toward being, unambiguously, a form of dating with no implications about the odds of marrying.

If you are aiming for marriage, aim for a solid choice in a partner and then look to form a public, mutual promise to marry. I do think that older couples not marrying, often to protect assets and keep clear lines of inheritance, is a (small) factor in younger couples becoming less likely to marry.

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So, people have avoided marriage somewhat because they see it as risky but the alternative pathways are arguably riskier still.

And if they still need to live in a roommate situation due to unstable or low-paying sources of income, marriage - or at least a grand wedding - is probably out of the question. 40 years ago, in same conditions, people would have had roommates to handle the financial strain, not romantic partners where things are complicated further by increased odds of having a child.

Though I've also heard some people have secret courthouse marriages so one partner can save on insurance. You don't see as much non-romantic roommate scenarios as you used to, and there are obviously more complex issues with romantic partners.

In contract, cohabitation is perceived as desirable for some precisely because it is easier exit than marriage.

But easier exits, while having some advantages, make it easier to, well, exit, and some couples leave too fast when times are tough, where they otherwise would have recovered and had a better life than they will have apart. I do think an increasing number of people believe marriage is outdated and a piece of paper.

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