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Marriage Versus Living Together Essay, Research Paper

Marriage versus Living Together

Most sociologists define marriage as a socially approved mating relationship with many

variations based on social norms. Although marriage is still considered the norm, it has become an optional lifestyle for greater numbers of people to maintain non-marital households. One of the most widespread lifestyle trends among non-marital households is that of cohabitation. By definition cohabitation is a living arrangement in which two people who are not related and not married live together and usually have a sexual relationship. According to Chuck Colsen in his book Cohabitation ? It?s Training for Divorce, in 1960 there were ninety married couples for every one cohabitating. If the present trend continues there will be only seven married couples per cohabitating couple by the year 2010. There are many myths about marriage and cohabitation that are widely accepted as fact but the number of marriages that end in divorce is much greater for those who live together on a trail basis before marriage.

There are countless myths about marriage. The most prevalent are that people marry solely out of love, that having children increases marital satisfaction, that a good sex life is the best predictor of a marital satisfaction, and that half of all marriages end in divorce. The truth is that people marry for many other reasons such as the fear of loneliness or for economic security. Studies have shown that married couples are actually happiest before the children are born and after they leave home due to the demand of raising children. In a marriage how a couple handles conflict is a much better predictor than blissful sex as to satisfaction of married couples. According to the 1990 census slightly less than a fourth of all adults who have ever been married have also been divorced. It is presumable the later myth that influences couples to elect to live together rather than marry. It is easier to fall in love than to remain in love. When couples vow to stay together till death do them part there is a much deeper commitment that staying together as long as we are happy with the situation. In a 1986 study of marriages, which had lasted for at least fifteen years, one of the tope answers as to the most important ingredients of marriage was that it is a long-term commitment.

There are a number of reasons given today for cohabitation, the majority of which are based on current popular myths. Several of the most common myths are that everyone my age is doing it, that economically it?s worth it to live together, that living together before marriage increases marital happiness, and that a marital license is just a piece of paper that doesn?t really equate to commitment. Contrary to public image cohabitation is not a college student phenomenon, many that choose to live together have been divorced or have children in the home. Several studies have suggested that women are frequently exploited as the result of cohabitation. Unmarried couples are actually at a distinct disadvantage compared to married couples in terms of financial and legal rights. Although a marriage certificate is only a piece of paper it does legitimize a relationship and by many accounts provides the couple with a higher success rate.

Married couples and cohabitating couples share various commonalities in the social and economic aspects. In both types of relationships responsibilities can be shared such as bills or housecleaning. Couples, whether they are married or not, usually have a shared social network and mutual interests. There is no one formula for sustaining a long-term relationship but one can clearly see that cohabitating under the assumption that it will make for a stronger marriage may in all actuality demolish a marriage before it begins.


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