Thesis Statement: In recent years, the trend of living together before marriage has become quite common with studies showing that more than 40% of couples would prefer to cohabit prior to getting married; though cohabitation is extremely popular, it hides numerous disadvantages that couples only discover after entering into such arrangements.
This is completely different from the way it used to be some thirty or forty years ago. Cohabitation was then considered a great scandal. Today, it has lost its disgrace, and is more or less considered as a normal part of life. Even the term “cohabitation” expresses the normalcy of this trend. In the past years, it was identified as “living in a fallen state.” Then it was crudely renamed as “shacking up.” While this was still a contemptuous expression, it watered down the basic offense that lay in the deliberate contravention of a law of God. At present, cohabitation is the favored expression for couples that are not married, but live together (Anderson, 2001). The expression certainly has a tolerable tone to it as it is sterilized of any actual negativity.
There are several sociological reasons that prove that cohabitation is a bad idea (Lawrence, 1997). Studies have revealed that it is a ruinous arrangement, which encourages the occurrences of socially deviant behaviors like child molestation, as well as exacting financial disorder, emotional strain, and eventual divorce if the couple opts for marriage at a later date. A Columbia University research named in the New Woman journal discovered that “merely 36% of women questioned, and a scant 20% of men would ultimately decide to marry the individual they were currently cohabiting with” (Bower, 2012). A more inclusive National Research on Households and Families, based on discussions with 1200 persons, concluded, “Approximately 45% of cohabiting couples in America break up without ever having considered marriage” (Bower, 2012). One of the reasons for this trend could be that people who live together without making commitments tend to coast from one intimate partner to another, and are constantly looking for the ‘right’ person. The standard cohabitant will have many different partners in his or her lifetime (Bower, 2012).
The magazine, Psychology Today, recorded the studies conducted by Neil Bennet of Yale University, which stated that cohabiting couples were 75% more likely to break up or divorce than were couples who had not cohabited with their spouses prior to marriage (Bower, 2012). The National Research on Households and Families shows that “unions that start in cohabitation are nearly thrice as likely to break up in the next 15 years, compared to first-time marriages” (McManus, McManus, & Colson, 2008). Another ten-year research conducted by the University of Chicago’s William Axinn showed that of the 800 couples studied in the Journal of Demography, those that were living together but were unmarried were more accepting of divorce than the married couples (Phatak, 2011). In a research sponsored by the Western Ontario University, sociologists discovered a direct connection between divorce and cohabitation when they examined over 9,000 ever-married women and men (Zeno, 2009). It was confirmed that cohabiting “has a direct unconstructive consequence on consequent marital stability,” maybe because the act of cohabiting “challenges the authenticity of recognized marriage” and so “lessens a cohabiting person’s commitment to prospective marriage” (Bower, 2012).
Most cohabiting couples just drift as one in the first place (Morgan, 2000). They date, decide to have an intimate relationship, sleep together, spend some time together, and eventually start to leave personal effects in each other’s places merely due to convenience and not true commitment. One day they suddenly realize that they are living with someone else. The lack of a general purpose between both of them is a problem then, (Waite & Gallagher, 2001) says, because they are now having a relationship they never meant to happen, and have not even discussed the important things that they want out of life. One of them may not wish to commit (Smock, 2000).
When a couple chooses to cohabit, they are essentially saying to each other, “I don’t want to be tied to you because someone better may come along. Moreover, I do not mind having sex with you for as long as this lasts.” With such selfishness being the foundation of the relationship, it is obvious that it is bound to break at the first sign of trouble. To respect marriage is to respect the individual a person chooses to marry.