Across a battery of other questions, the Pew data show that married couples enjoy greater levels of satisfaction with their relationships. Married people are more likely to say they’re happy with their partner’s parenting techniques, the division of household chores, their partner’s work/life balance, and the level of communication within the relationship.
But the married and cohabiting are on par in one realm: sex. Similar percentages of each report being very satisfied with their sex life. Among married people in particular, women report greater levels of satisfaction with their sex lives than men. This gap does not exist among cohabiting couples.
Similar patterns exist among measures of relationship trust, with married adults more likely to report trust in their partner to be faithful, act in their best interests, tell the truth and handle money responsibly.
Overall, the data from Pew and elsewhere show that from a life satisfaction perspective, marriage is typically the best choice for the couples who are able to make it. But it suggests that financial difficulties are a key reason why many couples are choosing to cohabitate rather than get married.