Essay, Research Paper: Cohabitation


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The process of an unmarried couple living together is known as cohabitation. In
earlier years this was a form of taboo, it was a cause of great concern and
morality among most people. To live together before marriage meant that you were
having premarital sex, which was the greatest area of concern in this moral
debate. In 1968 Linda Leclair's (a student at Columbia University) enrollment
was questioned when she moved into her boyfriend's apartment. The college
allowed her to continue her education and Columbia, but with several
restrictions as a consequence of her actions. (Myers, 1998) This is just one
example of how the public viewed this radical new look on relationships. By the
subjects involved was this a way to trial a marriage, a kind of relationship
standard, "let's see if we can make it before we commit." Well this is
what people thought whether it was right or wrong is a moral question whether it
is beneficial or harmful to a marriage can be studied. The example of Linda,
which I gave in the first paragraph, happened during a time of great revolution.
During the 60's and 70's people began to take whole new perspective on the idea
of relationship it was a time of "Sexual Revolution" and the start of
the birth control pill along with other forms of contraception. (Collins/Coltrane,
1995) Another widely viewed theory is the feminist movement during about the
same time. Women wanted to organize their lives, they wanted to finish college
and move on to careers and this meant putting off marriage. (Collins/Coltrane,
1995) Women still wanted meaningful relationships without the difficulty of
marriage, these factors along with changing times caused for a large influx of
cohabitation. During the 1970's the cohabitation of unmarried couples tripled
and in the 1980's doubled yet again. (Myers, 1998) With the large increase of
cohabitation the views once associated with it started to dwindle. In 1989
300,000 first year college students were surveyed and 51 % believed that "a
couple should live together before they are married." (Astin/others, 1989)
This is in contrary to the ideas and morals of earlier years as I stated at the
beginning of my paper. Cohabitation often works very similar to a real marriage.
In 1991 nearly one third of the couples cohabiting had children, and sexual
possessiveness is often regarded the same way, and they often have joint
economic relationships as in marriage. (Blumstein/Swartz, 1991) With these new
views on relationships together do people have a better chance of a long lasting
marriage? Well according to studies done in the US and other various parts of
the world cohabitation is not beneficial to a healthy marriage. In 1989 13,000
adults were surveyed and couples who live together before marriage are one third
more likely to end in divorce within the next ten years. (Bumpass/Sweet, 1989)
Along with the US Canada found out of 5300 women you have a 53 % greater chance
of getting a divorce (Balakrishan/others, 1987) and in Sweden out of 4300 women
you have a 80 % greater risk of your marriage ending in divorce.
(Bennett/others, 1988) Myers points out though that couples more willing to live
together before marriage are "more open to terminating unsatisfying
relationships."(Myers, 1998) This may be an excuse for the data found but
it no excuse for the decline of morality in the world. Cohabitation is not a way
in which you can trial a marriage; it is was way to have an easy escape if
things don't go exactly as planned. I agree with Myers when he says, "The
very idea of cohabitation presumes that intimate relationship need not be
permanent. It sees love as conditional rather than committed" (Myers, 1998)
Data has proven that it isn't healthy to live together before marriage, and
general morality as seen in earlier years says the same thing. So where are the
benefits to cohabitation?
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