There are lots of reasons people decide to live together without getting married. They feel like it’s time, or they know it will be cheaper, or even, sometimes, because they like each other and want to live in the same home.

But  new study suggests that some couples choose to live together rather than get married because they’re afraid of getting divorced (this, of course, doesn’t account for the many couples who aren’t legally allowed to get married).

Time magazine reports that the survey, which was conducted with 61 couples living together in the Columbus, Ohio area, found that 67% of women in those couples were afraid of the “potential social, emotional and economic fallout of splitting up.” Researchers also discovered that lower-income women were more likely to be nervous about marriage than their higher-income counterparts, with some lower-income women saying that they felt that getting married would mean one more person to care for, rather than a person to share responsibility with.

So, every time a study like this comes out, it makes me wonder anew: why do we place so much emphasis on marriage, anyway? What is the point? If the very idea of it causes fear and stress for a significant portion of people, maybe it should be relegated to something a little more like…totally optional, rather than the one thing that society says we should all want. (Unless we’re gay, of course. Then we are totally overstepping to want it.)

What do you think?