Examine the Reasons for Changes in the Patterns of Marriage and Cohabitation in the Last 40 Years

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Examine the reasons for changes in the patterns of marriage and cohabitation in the last 40 years (20 marks)

In order to assess reasons for the changes in the patterns of marriage and cohabitation; it is necessary to first establish the term marriage and cohabitation. Marriage is traditionally conceived to be a legally recognized relationship, between two consenting adults, that carries certain rights and obligations. Cohabitation is an arrangement whereby couples who are not legally married live together in partnership within the common law. Cohabitation has become so widespread that the term itself is now rarely used. I will now critically examine the changes in the patterns of marriage and cohabitation in the last 40 years or so. Most recently, the trend of marriages went into decline. Statistics show that marriages reached an all-time low in 2005 when only 244,710 couples got married, trends show that marriages have decreased. People were rejecting marriage and the age of marriage was steadily rising. In support of the view that marriage is in decline, Chester (1985) suggests that in fact people are delaying marriage. It is said that people will eventually marry after a period of cohabitation, the average time a couple cohabitates is 5 years, 60% of cohabitees will eventually marry. The reason for cohabitation before marriage is probably because couples may want to ͞test the water͟ before they subject themselves into a lifelong commitment. Further evidence which supports this view is that the age for first time bridges in 2003 was 29 years old and for all grooms 31 years. In particular, women may want to delay marriage so they can advance career prospects. Nevertheless, marriage as an institution is in decline because society has become more secular. Couples go through civil marriages or partnerships instead of marrying in the eyes of God. The British constitution of marriage is traditionally based upon the principles of Christianity e.g. the Church of...
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