Living together without marriage: What people in the ’70s had to say about it

couple at home having breaksfast 1978

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Living together without marriage

Good Housekeeping – March 1978

We asked our readers to tell us what they think about this controversial subject. The answers may surprise you.

President Jimmy Carter heartily disapproves of it. Mothers and fathers worry that their children will get involved in it. In some states, there are laws — not usually enforced — against it.

It used to be called “shacking up,” or “common-law marriage.” Now it’s simply called “living together.”

It’s not a new phenomenon. But in the late sixties, it became, instead of a furtive way of life only “other people” indulged in, a new lifestyle embraced by the young.

The protests of the sixties are gone. And with this new, quieter age, how many men and women now live together as husband and wife without legal sanction?

1975 Beauty couple happy

What people in the ’70s thought about unmarried couples

In a recent poll, we asked Good Housekeeping readers what their attitudes and practices were.

Did the couple living together without marriage…

Later marry each other: 49%
Continue to live together: 24%
Break up: 21%
Marry someone else: 6%

ALSO SEE: Cosmo’s Marvelous Men: Inside the cringeworthy ’70s guide to love & sex for women

Man and woman - Young couple in 1970

Did your family accept the living-together-without-marriage situation?

Yes: 55%
No: 37%
Didn’t care either way: 8%

Do you think that living together without marriage…

Helps form a more permanent relationship: 2%
Detracts from a more permanent relationship: 21%
Should be strictly avoided: 30%
Should be up to the individuals involved: 47%

ALSO SEE: 50+ sexist vintage ads so bad, you almost won’t believe they were real

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. Even now, “living together” is considered scandalous in some circles, especially among religious people. Several years ago, I heard a story (perhaps an urban legend?) about a TV commercial innocently featuring a couple in bed; when presented with the ad, the client was furious, and insisted that it be re-shot with the couple prominently wearing wedding rings.

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