Cohabiting Versus Marriage
Walter Odhiambo Marriage versus Living Together Living together without marriage or cohabitation, is a staged, significant change in the manner in which many adults in the world develop from being single to being married today. Marriage is an inimitable relationship that assumes a vow of permanence. Most of those cohabiting fear, or are not ready for such a permanent relationship. Although there is commonly held belief that the idea of cohabiting will somehow enhance the quality of a later marriage, no one has ever found that cohabitation makes a positive contribution to later marital stability.
In a comparison of relationship paybacks and costs, marriage prevails over cohabitation. First, the couples who are married enjoy marital satisfaction for they believe in being there for one another at all times. This encourages long-term emotional investment in the relationship. In contrast, cohabitation for most seems to mean, being there only as long as the relationship meets your needs. People willing to live together are more eccentric than others and tend to be less dedicated to marriage as a tradition.
For them, relatively easy exit with few responsibilities are cohabitation’s biggest attraction. The institution of marriage has been unanimously accepted as the way to provide for children and realize adult dreams, a fact that has also been avowed by scholarly research as the way to increased health, happiness, and financial security. (Gallagher) Spouses are better off financially, they monitor each other’s spending in a way that emphasizes “our spending plan” or budget. While cohabiting couples more often have separate bank accounts, for most married couples, “Your money is my money. Couples who cohabit are more likely to control their own finances than to work as a close team, helping each other meet their financial and career goals. In fact married men tend to earn relatively more than single men (nearly twice as much) and married women have access to more of men’s earnings than if they are single or cohabiting. Other than many women getting a small income boost from marriage, they also report receiving considerable help from their husbands in their careers. All these are because marriage makes couples more finically responsible and get more serious about their careers and thus make a good living. Larson) As opposed to their married fellows, cohabiting couples feel less secure in their relationships. They are less likely than the married to view their sexual relationships as enduringly exclusive since they are less faithful to their partners than spouses are. Cohabiting couples generally do not reap the physical health benefits enjoyed by spouses. In addition, cohabiting, especially with serial partners, greatly increases the possibility of acquiring one or more sexually transmitted diseases. Even when they are faithful, they are less committed to sexual fidelity, which creates more insecurity.
Children’s emotional growth is shoddier if a parent is cohabiting than if a parent is married. If the couple does separate, the children suffer economically as they have no right to child support from a partner who is not their biological parent. In fact, the most perilous family setting for children is that in which the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father. These children may also have more behavioral problems, lower academic performance than children in married families and are more exposed to abuse than those with married parents. (Whelan) Finally, cohabitation may affect relationships with parents.
In some families, cohabitation is no longer associated with sin, pathology, or parental disapproval, but in many families cohabitation is still considered morally wrong and embarrassing to extended family members. Those cohabiting risk damaging their relationships with their parents and experiencing the withdrawal of parental and extended family support for the relationship. The modern generation of young adults longs for fulfilling and stable marriages, but is increasingly concerned about their ability to achieve them. Compared to marriage, cohabitation creates disadvantages for individuals, couples, and children.
It, like a mirage, holds out empty promises that disappear and even lead away from fulfillment of the hopes most people have for their lives. The benefits enjoyed in cohabiting are better still enjoyed in marriage which offers the best beginning for children and the best opportunity for lasting happiness. Choose marriage and enjoy its rewards. References Gallagher, Linda J. Waite & Maggie. The case for marriage. New York: Dou-bleday, 2000. Larson, Jeffry H. Should We Stay Together? San Francisco: Jossy-Bass, 2000. Whelan, R. Broken homes and battered children. London: Family Eduction Trust, 1993.