Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?

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Lai Chiow HongID NO:111052-05065-010March 15, 2012

Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?

What is cohabitation? According to the Oxford Dictionary, cohabitation means a couple ‘live together and having a sexual relationship without being married’ (n.d). In1960 between 2000, the rate of cohabitation has increased to 88% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).Nowadays, more and more people choose to live together before marriage because it is a good way to test the stability of couples’ relationships (Rhoades et al., 2009a).10% of couples who live together before marriage will cohabitate for at least five years and above (Smock and Pamela, 2000). Hence, does cohabitation prove to be a good alternative to marriage?

Although others might agree that cohabitation is the best way to strengthen bonds between couples, but research has shown otherwise. Cohabitation will affect the children, the relationship of cohabiting partners and the society. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to point out the disadvantages of cohabitation.

Firstly, cohabitation will have negative effects on children. Based on the survey, 45% of Ireland’s cohabiting partners share their income (2009).Cohabitation families will face financial problems whenever their partner is sick or unemployed. Poor cohabitating families will lead to behavioural problems of children. Also, the children will be stressed out. Besides, children from cohabitating families do not have the same rights compared to children who come from intact families. This is because there are no law and custodial right involving children from cohabitating families. In other words, children of unmarried couples cannot enjoy the same benefits compared to normal children, for instance, government benefits and taxation. Children from cohabiting family will blame their parents. So, it is tough to build the relationship between the parent and children. Therefore, parents who are involved in cohabitation will bring negative effects to their kids (Kierkus, 2010).

Furthermore, children in cohabitating families may face emotional problems. According to research, children from cohabitating families will face more psychological and socio-emotional challenges than others (Live Site News, 2010). These challenges include the emotional management such as scholastic achievement, expression capacity, and behaviour. In addition, the risk of facing psychological distresses in children who are from cohabitating family is higher than normal children. These distresses include anxiety disorders of children that may cause arguments among family members (Crouse, 2004). For example, children will face panic, phobia and inferiority complex (Gollub and Shellock, 2011).

Meanwhile, ccohabitating parents will set a bad example to their children. According to Dyer, children will follow or learn from their parents and the same behaviours in their daily lives (n.d.). This is because parents are the ultimate role models for their children. Parents may influence the perception of their children regarding cohabitation. Children from non-intact families may practice sex before marriage in the future. A study done by Science Daily about sex, drug and alcohol, had mentioned that attitude of parents toward sexual activity can influence their children the most in the future (2008). Therefore, parents will not only influence their children’s perception on cohabitation, but also expose them to early sexual activities. Therefore, cohabitating families are the least suitable family environment for children.

Secondly, cohabitation will also affect the relationship between cohabitating partners. Recent survey shows that the reason for why many couples are involved in cohabitation is because they think that it is convenient; thus, they can spend more time together and cohabitation can be a trial marriage (Rhoades et al., 2009b).However, trial marriage will lead to divorce. Recent survey shows that cohabitating couples...
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