Cohabitation, Marriage, and Divorce

explanatory Essay
1242 words
1242 words

1.0 Introduction

Cohabitation is and has been a norm in almost all societies in the world. It has been perceived as the stepping stone to marriage by the modern generation. In Whitman, (2003), cohabitation has grown so widely that there is one cohabiting couple out of 7 marriages in 2010 as compared to 1 out of 90 marriages in 1960. According to her, the attitude towards the whole of marriage institution has changed drastically over time. In the same article, currently in the US, of 3 single women, 1 chooses to live with their partners before marriage as compared to the 1950’s where only 1 out of 10 chooses so. Another statistics reveal that, the number of cohabitating partners have increased exponentially from 430,000 in 1960 to 5.4 million couples in 2005 (Fowler, R, 2008). From this shocking statistics, we ought to find out the advantages and disadvantages of cohabiting.

Firstly, the meaning of cohabitation and marriage must be clearly defined before more research is done. From the Concise English Dictionary (9th Edition), cohabitation come from the word ‘cohabit’ which is defined as “live together, [especially] as husband and wife without being married to one another” while marriage is defined as “the legal union of a man and woman in order to live together and often to have children”. In today’s terms, long-term cohabitation is more known as an alternative to marriage. Couples now prefer cohabitation because of the ‘freedom’ and the ‘guarantee of compatibility’ that it allegedly offers.

However, the issue about cohabitation that is questioned is the stability of the relationship. We know that cohabitation is recognized by any country in the world as a legal union of a man and woman. The question arises, ‘Will cohabitat...

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...ation’, Family Matters, pp. 24-27, viewed 26th January 2012,

Popenoe D., Whitehead B.D. (1999), ‘Should we live together? What young adults need to know about cohabitation before marriage.’ THE NATIONAL MARRIAGE PROJECT : The Next Generation Series, New Jersey, viewed 14 January, 2012,

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, (1995), 9th ed, Oxford University Press Inc., New York.

Whitehead, B.D. and Popenoe, D. (2000), ‘Sex without strings, relationships without rings’, The State of Our Unions, The Social Health of Marriage in America, The National Marriage Project, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, p. 13, New Jersey.

Whitman, S. (2003), ‘Shacking up: The smart girl's guide to living in sin without getting burned’, Broadway, Washington.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that cohabitation has been a norm in almost all societies in the world.
  • Explains that many couples take cohabitation as a stepping stone to marriage. however, the opposing argument is flawed.
  • Summarizes bramlett md and mosher wd's 'cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the united states.'
  • Cites whitehead, popenoe, and whitman's book, the national marriage project, rutgers, state university of new jersey.
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