Un-Married Couple Cohabitation
Cohabitation is a term used to describe the living together of an unmarried couple. The relationship between these two individuals is usually intimate, physically or sexually intimate that can be for a long-term or for a temporary basis. When the term is taken into consideration in a broader manner, the term means many people living together.
These days, there has been a great increase in the rates of cohabitation in the western world. Today there are more than two thirds of people who are unmarried and live together. In accordance to the statistics gathered in the year 1994, more than 4 million American couples cohabit. When cohabitation and the rates of cohabitation from the past are taken into account, cohabitation was considered illegal in the United States in 1970. Cohabitation was seen to be very uncommon in the past (Wood, 2011, p. 56). The rates started to increase in the late 1990s. There has been a ten times increase in the number of couples living together between 1990s and 2000. These days cohabitation is seen as normal in the process of dating. One of the most common forms of union among the youth is now cohabitation. There are a number of reasons based on which there has been a great increase in the rates of cohabitation. One of the main reasons based on which rates of cohabitation have been increasing today is the need of money or one of the individuals from the couples may be in a need of housing. Secondly, there is an increase in the trend of not believing in marriage. Some of the surveys have mentioned that being able to spend time with each other is also one of the main reasons of cohabitation. Other than these, reasons as living with each other with convenience, and testing relationships. The costs of housing have increased, there is an increased financial burden on people after the financial crisis is also some of the reasons that have led to an increase in the rates of cohabitation (Wu, 2000, p. 34). More than 60% of the married coupled have cohabited in their past. These days, the researchers have suggested that the couples believe in living together before marriage in order to test their relationship. One of the main advantages that are seen in this case is that there are no legal obligations needed when ending these relationships.
Cohabitation has been thought to be an important alternative to marriage in the case of financial issues. Cohabitation can be beneficial for those who want to have same sex marriage, interracial marriages as well as interreligious marriages. For those who avoid breaking the law, for polygamists, cohabitation can be an important alternative. Higher income taxes are one of the main challenges being faced by the couples where both individuals are earning. If these individuals are married, higher income taxes cannot be avoided. However, these can only be avoided if the couple stays unmarried. If the couple is married, the states can have many negative effects on the pension payments as well as the greater opposition seen in the case of the institution of marriage. Cohabitation is sometimes also referred to as defacto marriage. These days it is becoming an important alternative for the conventional marriage. Some of the states that have finally realized the status of cohabitation, the legal status of these marriages is now counted as the common law marriages, in which individuals in the couple are required to behave as husband and wife (Barlow, 2005, p. 90).
Although cohabitation has gained much criticism; there are certain advantages and disadvantages of cohabitation.
Advantages of cohabitation
1. Protection from divorce
There is no doubt about the fact that these days, there is a great increase in unstable relationships. The studies have shown that cohabitation may be becoming one of the most important sources of reducing the rates of divorce. The history has reported that in the 1960s, less than one in a hundred people were living in cohabitation. However, these days, when the statistics are taken into account, it can be seen that there is one in six people who are living in cohabitation. In the past, cohabitation was seen as socially unacceptable but these days, it is not only considered normal but socially acceptable. These days there are a very less number of couples who want to get married (Suzuki, 2007, p. 67). There is a great change in the face of relationships these days based on which people like to delay relationship commitments until later in life. Marriage is being delayed for more than five years as compared to what was seen in the 1980s. There are a number of factors that play roles in the delay of marriage to more than five years. One factor is an increase in frequency of cohabitation. The couples in cohabitation are spending more time (Cochrane, 2010, p., 49).
Several studies have shown that the couples who live together before getting married have higher chances of separating as compared to married couples. Recent studies have shown that there has been a great reduction in the rates of divorce in the UK since an increase in the rates of cohabitation. If there are unstable relationships between cohabiting partners, they are more likely to separate before getting married. These studies have shown that rather than prompting for marriage, cohabitation is competing against marriage. When cohabiting couples break up before marriage, it is greatly reflected by the current divorce rates (Nazio, 2008, p. 28).
2. Financial safeguards
There is no doubt about the fact that money is one of the main reasons based on which breakups occur in the families. One of the main facts that have been seen in the case of cohabitation is that it can provide safeguards against financial constraints. Cohabitation can be regarded as a financial decisions rather an intimate one to live with the partner. For instance, more than U.S.$13,000 is to be paid by the students for rents, examination fees, and living and transportation fees. Rents can be divided in half after cohabitation. Students can gain more advantages from cohabitation as the two members can easily divide the bills, and other costs of living among each other. Thereby it is seen that the splitting of finances is one of the main advantages offered by cohabitation (Waite, and Bachrach, 2000, p. 42).
3. Responsibility development
Development of responsibility is one of the main advantages of cohabitation. Youngsters and teens are usually of an arrogant nature, and do not have patience to tolerate the needs of the other people. When an individual cohabits with the other person, there are great changes seen in these youngsters as well as teenagers. There is an increase in the development of responsibility within the teenagers to split the finances, and the bills. Taking care of the individual and the needs of the individuals is one of the main changes seen in the teenagers (Thornton, Axinn, and Xie, 2007, p. 63).
4. Time bound
One of the major advantages of cohabitation is that the members are not forced to live together till the death as in the case of marriage. Instead, cohabitation between the two members can be bound based on the lease that one member has on his or her apartment. Thereby, it becomes important that time span of the relationship and cohabitation is discussed at the time.
5. Maintenance of individuality
In the case of marriage, it has been seen that individuals along with their individuality become one. Thereby, both individuals have to give up their individuality in order to live through the life in a more successful and a more compromising manner. One of the main advantages in the case of cohabitation is that individuality can be maintained during the relationship and there is no need to give up on it. Cohabitation has been defined by the use of an equal but separate approach based on which anxiety of losing one's individuality can be reduced (Great Britain: Law Commission, 2006, p. 31).
6. Health advantages
Two important aspects of health are taken into account when considering the advantages of cohabitation as compared to marriage. Psychological well-being, happiness, and self-esteem; cohabitation has many more health benefits as compared to marriages. Couples who choose cohabitation over marriage have been found to be much happier having better heath and self-esteem as compared to the couples who are married. The studies have shown that much more freedom and psychological space is available to the individuals who choose cohabitation. This increases independence as well as personal growth and this space is important for people at certain stages of life. The Journal of Marriage and Family have carried out a number of studies. Most of the studies have concluded that married couples are much less happy in case of psychological well-being. There is no doubt about the fact that marriage is an important institution but these days there has been a great increase in the number of couples living…