Men, on the other hand, continue to be much more successful in landing younger partners. About 59 percent of husbands had younger wives, and almost 9 percent had wives at least seven years their junior. Some things don’t change.
• Which gender is more prone to cohabiting? Survey says: It’s the men.
Taken as a whole (and after age 25), about 60 percent of both men and women say they have ever lived with a lover sans marriage. Most say they have done this with only one partner.
But when it comes to serial cohabiting, men are clearly more likely to have a collection of house keys: Around 8 percent of women in their 30s and 40s reported having had three or more cohabiting partners, compared with about 17 percent of men the same ages. Ladies, cohabiting isn’t as equitable as you might think.
• Which leads to the question about who’s more likely to help pay the bills, a husband or a boyfriend? Answer: The husband. Just 8 percent of wives reported unemployed husbands (this was in pre-recession 2002) compared to 15 percent of cohabiting women who reported partners with no paychecks.
(Side note: Almost the same amount of husbands and cohabiting men — 68 percent and 67 percent, respectively — said their women worked.)
• Now to the big bonus question: Is cohabiting an automatic prelude to marriage? Answer: For couples whose relationship makes it past the first anniversary, about half will transition to marriage by the third year.
Cohabiting-to-marriage was especially likely if both partners are white, college graduates, grew up with their own two parents, didn’t start living together until after age 26 and aren’t parents already.
Food for thought in these nontraditional times.
• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.