Living Together Before Marriage

LIVING TOGETHER BEFORE MARRIAGE 12

LivingTogether Before Marriage

Accordingto Steuber et al. (2014), “cohabitation is usual and problematicpart of modern dating relationships”. There is an increase incohabitation in recent years, which implies that it has beengenerally accepted in societies. Living together prior to marriagehas become one of America’s most significant and unforeseen familytrends. By definition, unmarried cohabitation describes a status ofcouples that are sexual partners, not married, but living in the samehousehold. According to Popenoe &amp Whitehead (2000), “over halfof all first marriages are usually preceded by cohabitation, comparedto almost none in the early twentieth century”. This is anindication that cohabitation has become widely accepted among theunmarried individuals especially the young couples. This is why itis suggested that “young couples communicate with one anotherconcerning what cohabitation means for their relationships”(International Business Times, 2015). Nevertheless, it isquestionable as to whether unmarried couples should live together.This report will discuss whether it is a good idea to cohabit andwill chiefly focus on why living together prior to marriage should beopposed and the solution that can be put in place to resolve theproblem.

TheProblem

Thetrend in the individuals living together before marriage indicatesthat the prevalence and acceptance of cohabitation is high. Accordingto Popenoe &amp Whitehead (2000), recent representation nationalsurveys indicate that “60% of high school seniors agreed or mostlyagreed with the notion that it is a good idea for a couple to livetogether prior to getting married so as to find out whether theyreally get along”. In today’s worldview, cohabitation has beenseen as a way of having “a progression to intimate relationships”(Popenoe &amp Whitehead, 2000). However, the acceptance andwidespread of cohabitation in the present society may be becausecouples do not distinguish whether it is a noble idea to livetogether prior to marriage. The main problem that emanates fromcohabitation is that there is no commitment in the relationship.

WhyOppose Cohabitation

Thereare different reasons that make cohabitation to be opposed theseclaims will be discussed in the paragraphs that follow.

CohabitationCan Contribute to Marriage Failure

Mostof women today desire to become married and get children, but thesewomen and young men perceive cohabitation as a way of testing maritalcompatibility in enhancing the chances of long-lasting marriages(Rhoadeset al., 2009).Those that prefer cohabitation have the reasoning that because ofthe high divorce levels, there is need to cohabit for a year or evenlonger and in case it does not seem to work then one is free to moveout. When there is such reasoning, it is likely that unsuitablepartners would become weeded out through a natural de-selectionprocess. The notion that cohabitation increases the chances ofmarital compatibility has been challenged, cohabitation does notmitigate the chances of eventual divorce indeed, cohabitation mayincrease to higher divorce risks. According to Popenoe &ampWhitehead (2000), research concerning cohabitation has establishedthat “there is a greater chance of couples in marriage divorcingwhen the marriage was preceded by cohabitation compared to marriagenot preceded by cohabitation”.

Researchershave been engaged in research in order to find out why there is arelationship amid cohabitation and marriage failure or divorce.Studies indicate that those individuals that cohabit are lesscommitted to the marriage institution. Research conducted by Axinn &ampThornton (1992) found out that individuals that have experience inpremarital cohabitation produce values and attitudes that increasethe chances of divorce since once they get fed up with one partnerthey know they can seek a divorce and find another partner willing tocohabit (Axinn &amp Thornton, 1992). This can be used to explain whycohabitation can contribute to marriage failure. Althoughcohabitation does not directly contribute to divorce, it isassociated with divorce since couples used to cohabitation get theattitude that they can seek cohabitation in case their marriage isnot compatible. Therefore, the increased urge of cohabitation leadsto marriage failure.

Cohabitationcan lead to marriage failure since cohabitation relationships do nothave strong commitment ethic. Cohabitation undercut the commitmentethic since cohabitants tend not to be so committed towards thecontinuation of their relationship (Axinn &amp Thornton, 1992).Besides, individuals that cohabit before marriage are usually moreoriented towards their own individual autonomy. Therefore, thislow-committed relationship that has personal oriented autonomy cannotbe in a position to hold a marriage where a lot of commitment isrequired. This is because when the cohabitants become used and learnto have their own individual autonomy, it becomes difficult tounlearn which makes it hard for cohabiting couples to have successfulmarriages.

Cohabitationusually teaches individuals to have unhealthy relationship skills.Individuals who live together prior to their marriage tend to displaymore negative as well as less successful partner-support andproblem-solving skills compared to married couples who do not livetogether prior to marriage. It has been hypothesized by researchersthat lack of relational clarity and commitment amid cohabitantsfosters more manipulative and controlling interactions as a way ofkeeping the relationship intact. These attitudes and problembehaviors which couples develop during cohabiting relationships areusually brought in a future marriage, which put couples at a risk ofpoor marital communication. Poor communication amid couples usuallycontributes to marriage failure.

Cohabitationis Detrimental to Parenting

  1. Family Instability – cohabiting partners may have children just like those in marriage. However, these partners are less ideal for meeting the development and needs of kids because they tend to be unstable nearly the children born by cohabiting couples face at least family upheavals over a slightly short time. Kids born to cohabiting couple will see the break-up of their homes at higher levels compared to those from married couples. Such upheaval is deemed to be harmful for thriving and well-being of kids.

  2. Increased Poverty and Lower Child Education – A study carried out at Purdue University found out that wealth accumulation in cohabiting households is much below compared to what is in married households. This is an indication that cohabiting households are likely to experience poverty, which is associated with “low child education” (Institute of American Values, 2013). The case may be even worse where children are step cohabiting parents.

  3. Behavioral and Emotional Problems – children from cohabiting households are deemed to do increasingly worse in psychological outcomes compared to children from married families. In terms of abuse, children in cohabiting households are likely to be sexually, emotionally, and physically abused compared to children from married families that are intact. This may make children from cohabiting households “develop poor emotional and behavioral outcomes” (Institute of American Values, 2013).

CohabitingRelationships have Ambiguities

Relationalambiguities exist in cohabiting relationships. According to a studydone by Steuber et al. (2014), “cohabitation may coincide withuncertain expectations for the future of the partnership”. Therelational uncertainties associated with cohabitation includerelationship sustainability, relational recovery, relational norms,relation steps, and partner compatibility. Research suggests that“lack of deliberate conversation concerning the meaning ofcohabitation results in couples sliding through relational stageswithout consideration of the consequences” (Stanley et al., 2006).The sliding is usually linked to problematic outcomes in therelationship. Lack of having congruence in cohabiting relationshipsmay result in coinciding with relation problems that are notnegotiated or addressed.

Validity

Fromthe point of view of cohabitation, the more individuals cohabitthere is a likelihood that the individuals would experience“relational difficulty that can result in divorce” (Stanleyet al., 2006).This is the case because individuals that cohabit in more than onetime learn behaviors and attitudes that are difficult to leave. Forinstance, in cohabitation, there are no commitments which can makeindividuals behave in a certain manner because of this, individualsin cohabitation are usually guided by their personal autonomy. Thus,when individuals cohabit more than once, the attitude of personalautonomy becomes registered in one’s mind and it usually becomesdifficult to leave such behavior and attitude even if one gets inmarriage. Therefore, it is justified to oppose cohabitation becauseserial cohabitation usually results to an increased level of divorcesince it becomes difficult for the cohabitants to follow commitmentsbecause they are not used to. It is not good to allow something thatwould result in breakages of marriages and marriage failure.

Howto Improve on the Position

Oneof the most crucial aspects that make marriages work and people thatare married fear divorce is commitment. Commitment is exceedinglyimportant in relationships because it ensures that the public arewitnesses and rules are put in place to guide the relationships.“When it comes to cohabitation relationships, there is nocommitment that ensures that the relationships remain intact”(Stanleyet al., 2006).This is the reason why there can be a case where cohabiting partnersseek more than one cohabiting partner. In cohabitation relationship,one can simply call off the relationship and seek another because onecan behave in a manner that he/she feels appeals him/her. However, incase cohabitation relationship were made formal, through theintroduction of rules and regulations that guide the commitment itcould be easy to curb the problem of divorce that results because ofindividuals cohabiting more than once. A lawyer can be introduced ina cohabitation relationship when drafting rules that will guide therelationship “own layer to draft the cohabitation agreement”(Block, 2015). With the introduction of commitment, the cohabitationrelationship would be just like marriage relationship hence, most ofthe problems associated with the cohabitation relationships will beresolved.

Conclusion

Peopleliving together prior to marriage have been associated with differentproblems such as marriage failure, relational uncertainties,parenting problems, and infidelity among other problems. Theseproblems bring the question as to whether living together prior tomarriage constitutes a noble idea. From the analysis of the differentbody of research, it is evident that the chief cause of the problemis lack of commitment. As it has been argued above, commitment isexceedingly vital in relationships because it ensures that the publicand other parties such as friends are witnesses and rules are put inplace to guide the relationships. When it comes to cohabitationrelationships, there is no commitment that ensures that therelationships remain intact. This is the reason why there can be asituation where cohabiting partners seek more than one cohabitingpartner. In cohabitation relationship, one can simply call off therelationship and seek another because one can behave in a manner thathe/she feels appeals him/her. This is to indicate that it is onlycommitment that can help in resolving the problems generated byunmarried individuals living together prior to marriage. Therefore,in order to qualify cohabitation as a noble idea, it is important tointroduce the aspect of commitment.

AnnotatedBibliography

Block,S. (2015). Merging Your Lives: When you start a relationship later inlife, does it make sense to marry or move in together? Answer: It’scomplicated. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 46-51

Thisresource introduces the concept of cohabitation, where money andother assets are involved. According to the resource, since there areissues of lack of commitment in a cohabitation relationship, sharingof money and other assets can become a problem in case partners thinkof parting ways however, the resource introduces the use ofcommitment rules that can help in resolving the problem.

InternationalBusinessTimes(2015).&quotCohabitationand Happily Ever After: A Response to Meg Jay.&quotInternational Business Times 4: Regional Business News.

Thisresource offers a response to an earlier post made by Meg Jay in theNew York Times concerning the “downside of cohabitation beforemarriage”. Meg had pointed out that about two thirds of Americansperceived cohabitation as a step toward marriage, which she thoughtwas a good sign of the mindset of young couples seeking marriage butoffers caution. This resource criticizes Meg Jay’s discouragementon cohabitation.

Instituteof American Values (IAV). (2013). Cohabitation is Harmful toParenting. Parenting,1-6.

Thisresource argues that cohabitation is hurting to parenting. Insupporting this argument, this resource provides five negative themesthat are usually associated with the cohabiting households. Thisresource argues that marriage is the benchmark for parenting.

Popenoe,D. &amp Whitehead, D.B. (2000). CouplesShould Not Live Together Before Marriage.New Jersey: Rutgers University.

Thisresource argues cohabitation is having a harmful impact on marriagein the U.S. It argues that couples that cohabit and then marry arelikely to divorce compared to non-cohabitants that marry. The authorsmake their argument that rather than institutionalizing cohabitation,the American society needs to revitalize marriage.

Steuber,R.K., Priem, S.J., Scharp, M.K. &amp Thomas, L. (2014). The Contentof Relational Uncertainty in Non-Engaged Cohabiting Relationships.Journalof Applied Communication Research,Vol. 42 (1), 107-123.

Thisresource focuses on the concept of relational uncertainty incohabiting relationships. In establishing whether there is relationaluncertainty in cohabiting relationships, the authors carried out astudy. From the study, it was established that there are relationalambiguities in cohabitation relationships.

Stanley,S. M., Kline Rhoades, G., &amp Markman, H. J. (2006). Sliding VersusDeciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect. FamilyRelations,55, 499-509.

Thisresource points out that premarital cohabitation is consistentlylinked with increased risk for divorce as well as marital distress.Explanation for this cohabitation effect is discussed in thisresource. Furthermore, the resource offers commitment as an importantingredient to resolving the cohabitation problem.

Axinn,W.G. &amp Thornton, A. (1992). Therelationship between cohabitation and divorce: selectivity or causalinfluence? Demography,Vol. 29(3), 357-74.

Thisarticle attempts to find out the relationship amid cohabitation anddivorce. The authors argue that although cohabitation does notdirectly lead to divorce, it is associated with divorce due to theattitude and behavior that cohabitants develop.

Rhoades,G. K., Stanley, S. M., &amp Markman, H. J. (2009). Couples` reasonsfor cohabitation: Associations with individual well-being andrelationship quality. Journalof Family Issues 30,233-258.

Thisarticle focused on how various reasons for cohabitation are linked toindividual well-being as well as relationship quality. This was donethrough a study comprising of 120 cohabitants. The study found outthat the level of cohabitation was associated with more negativecommunication, physical aggression, and lower relationshipadjustment, dedication and confidence.

References

Axinn,W.G. &amp Thornton, A. (1992). Therelationship between cohabitation and divorce: selectivity or causalinfluence? Demography,Vol. 29(3), 357-74.

Block,S. (2015). Merging Your Lives: When you start a relationship later inlife, does it make sense to marry or move in together? Answer: It’scomplicated. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 46-51.

Instituteof American Values (IAV). (2013). Cohabitation is Harmful toParenting. Parenting,1-6.

InternationalBusinessTimes(2015).&quotCohabitationand Happily Ever After: A Response to Meg Jay.&quotInternational Business Times 4: Regional Business News.

Popenoe,D. &amp Whitehead, D.B. (2000). CouplesShould Not Live Together Before Marriage.New Jersey: Rutgers University.

Rhoades,G. K., Stanley, S. M., &amp Markman, H. J. (2009). Couples` reasonsfor cohabitation: Associations with individual well-being andrelationship quality. Journalof Family Issues 30,233-258.

Stanley,S. M., Kline Rhoades, G., &amp Markman, H. J. (2006). Sliding VersusDeciding: Inertia and the Premarital Cohabitation Effect. FamilyRelations,55, 499-509.

Steuber,R.K., Priem, S.J., Scharp, M.K. &amp Thomas, L. (2014). The Contentof Relational Uncertainty in Non-Engaged Cohabiting Relationships.Journalof Applied Communication Research,Vol. 42 (1), 107-123.