Tying the Knot Versus Living Together: Your Brain Has a Surprising Preference

Living Together Versus Getting Married

Photo: Getty Images

Cohabiting before marriage is more common than ever these days. In fact, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 48 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 were living with a man they aren't married to!

See more: 5 Surprising Ways Marriage Is Good for Women

But do these arrangements last? According to the data, at least 40 percent of cohabiting relationships transitioned to marriage within the first three years, 32 percent remained the same, and 27 percent broke up.

These are interesting numbers that come on the heels of a new study, conducted by University of Virginia researchers, that finds not only do our brains recognize the difference between living together versus being married, but we may even feel "safer" with the idea of marriage.

This was all confirmed in a series of brain scans of cohabiting and married couples that revealed something fascinating: In those who were not married, the brain recognized the lack of commitment and was less able to calm and relax.

See more: Could Living Under Separate Roofs Strengthen Your Relationship?

"We really pay close attention to when it's safe to let down our guard and to outsource our stress response to our social networks," explains the author of the study, Jim Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. So according to his study, and others, score one for marriage, because it, apparently, helps us manage stress better.

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