TODAY

TODAY   |  June 24, 2013

More couples starting families without marrying

An increasing number of couples are living perfectly traditional lives – moving in together, starting families – all while saying “I don’t” when it comes to marriage. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports and relationship therapist Argie Allen discusses the phenomenon.

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>> we have all heard the nursery rhyme , first comes love and then comes marriage and next comes baby in the baby carriage . in some cases that's not true.

>> good morning. being life partners no longer necessarily means getting married. an increasing number of couples are living traditional lives. moving in together and starting a family but they're saying i don't when it comes to marriage. there's kim kardashian and kanye west . goldie hahn and kurt russell together 30 years. kate hudson and matthew bellamy . he put a ring on it in 2011 .

>> you're engaged.

>> i am.

>> congratulations.

>> thank you.

>> but they have yet to say i do. and brad pitt and angelina jolie . all choosing babies before marriage. first comes baby, then comes marriage, or not. but this isn't just happening in tinsel town .

>> hollywood affects all aspects of decisions of mainstream america from products to fashion to trends and now they're affecting how we do relationships.

>> reporter: more and more couples are walking away from walking down the aisle. marriage rates are at their lowest point in half a century and the number of cohabitating couples is way up to 7.5 million in 2010 . statistics show unmarried couples that live together are staying together longer than in the past. after three years, 32% were still living together and still unmarried and in many cases, like the jolie pitt clan, having children.

>> it does not surprise me at all that couples are choosing to cohabitat instead of get married. it's much less intimidating to sign a lease than marriage papers. couples want what is permanant. a baby is permanant. a relationship, not so much.

>> reporter: it's fuelled by changing cultural ideas of marriage. redefining happily ever after.

>> kids that are the product of divorce can be gunshot about tying the knot themselves. now as far as the marriage rates are concerned they aren't expected to stay this low. they will pick up a little in the next few years.

>> all right. thank you so much. she is a relationship therapist and the director of clinical training at drexel university . good morning to you.

>> good morning guys.

>> what do you think are the reasons behind it?

>> there's a lot of different reasons. i think that people are getting married later. they have more choices. they're choosing to cohabitat and have a family like you do.

>> i fit that profile. that 35%. live with my girlfriend. we have two kids. what's wrong with me.

>> there's nothing wrong with you. people are making different choices.

>> that's my little daughter there.

>> you have been together with your girlfriend a long time.

>> yeah, almost 7 years. that's our kids. for us it's about the end game . what's the end game ? staying together.

>> staying together.

>> and you're not looking for a quick exit strategy . the path looks different in 2013 .

>> but let me ask you is marriage in your view an obstacle to the end game .

>> no, they said in the piece i don't. it's not about i don't. it's just not now.

>> and people are more accepting and looking at it from a different perspective and people are not as judgmental as they used to be.

>> when you two kids, if you can live together for six or seven years and raise two kids the marriage is just a party. we can have the party any time.

>> it's not like you're fearing commitment because there's no greater commitment.

>> do you know what's on up tick now too, people are coming into coup couple therapy more. they want to get it right.

>> and do you feel like there's less stigma now for couples to come in that are boyfriend and girlfriend to get counseling?

>> that's working it out? i look at it like the gym. to stay in a committed relationship is not easy. to say this is going to be easy we're going to get married and have kids and never have a problem is where people are having troubles.

>> so they're focused on what is working and what is not working. is indicator of a good relationship is not howell you do when things are good, it's howell you do when things are bad.

>> is there a financial aspect to this? why people choose to get married for tax reasons or something.

>> for the hollywood folks, money is not an issue but for every day people it is. people are saying i'm not going to spend thousands of dollars on this wedding but i want to have a family and commit to you. you have to think about the finances.

>> do you worry at all about the message that it sends to kids? is there something to be said for the parents getting married.

>> yeah. angelina and brad pitt said that once they had their children that they decided they wanted to get married. they isn't done it yet but they wanted to do that for their children.

>> they're the top of the whole trend. once they get married we're all in trouble.

>> you're just waiting for brad and angie you're right behind them.

>> yeah, people want to do it better, though.

>> you're not worried about this trend?

>> i'm not. i think people want to be committed to one another and they'll do it. just in time.

>> thank you so much.

>> coming up, a look back