Cohabitation: More Harm Than Good

Topics: Marriage, Cohabitation, Common-law marriage Pages: 7 (2280 words) Published: May 13, 2005
"If the family trends of recent decades are extended into the future, the result will not only be a growing uncertainty within marriage, but the gradual elimination of marriage in favor of casual liaisons, oriented to adult expressiveness and self-fulfillment. The problem with this scenario is that children will be harmed, adults probably no happier, and the social order could collapse." (David Popenoe in Promises to Keep)

Cohabitation by definition is two unmarried people of the opposite-sex living together. It has been called by various terms, such as "living together", "shacking up", "cohabitation", "serial monogamy" or "living in sin." It is a halfway house for people who do not want the degree of personal and social commitment that marriage represents, at least for now (Waite & Gallagher 2000:42). Besides, people believe that living together in a trial marriage tells potential partners something about what marriages would be like. The information gained could help couples make good choices and avoid bad ones. The survey evidence shows how widespread this belief is. The number of unmarried couples has increased dramatically over the past four decades, and the increase is continuing. It is seemed that the cohabitation is replacing marriage as the first living-together experience for young men and women. According to reports only in America, the number of unmarried couples from 1960 to 2002 has increased by over 1100 percent.

It is overwhelmingly clear that cohabitation is very harmful for a number of reasons. In fact, there is not a single good reason to cohabit that stands up under sociological, psychological, health (either emotional or physical) reasons. Cohabitation is so damaging to our human relationships and leaves such deep scars for a lifetime.

Sociological Reasons

The couples who live together before marriage have higher separation and divorce rates. A growing number of young people are cohabiting today, believing that the cohabiting relationship can serve as a successful testing ground for marriage and, therefore, lessen chances of divorce. In fact, recent research shows that 46% of all cohabiting relationships are seen as precursors to marriage by the couple (Lynne N. Capser and Suzanne M. Bianchi 2002: chapter 2). And over 90 percent of cohabitors report they plan to marry someone, if not their current partner, at some point in their lives.( John D. Cunningham and John K. Antill 1997: 77-93). However, the question is "Does cohabiting before marriage decrease people's chances for divorce?" Unfortunately, the research data collected over the past twenty-five years indicates just the opposite is true. Cohabiting relationships are more likely to lead to divorce. The Psychology Today reported the researches of Yale University sociologist Neil Bennett that cohabiting women were 80% more likely to separate or divorce than were women who had not lived with their partners before marriage. According to the 5-year study by William Axinn of the University of Chicago of 800 couples reported in the Journal of Demography, those who cohabit are the most accepting of divorce. In a Canadian study at the University of Western Ontario, sociologists found a direct relationship between cohabitation and divorce when investigating over 8,000 ever-married men and women (Hall and Zhoa 1998:421-427). Some other researchers from Pennsylvania State University find "it has been consistently shown that, compared to couples who did not cohabit, couples who cohabit before marriage have higher rates of marital separation and divorce." (Catherine Cohan and Stacey Kleinbaum 2002: 180-192.)

The spouses who use cohabitation as trial marriages do not have better marriages. This trial runs or half steps, to test whether the relationship works are not successful; in fact, it is quite that the opposite is true. Research indicates that couples who live together before marriage have significantly lower marital satisfaction than those...
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