Live- N Relationships Essay Example
Live- N Relationships Essay Example

Live- N Relationships Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2894 words)
  • Published: May 5, 2017
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INTRODUCTION. The decrease in the popularity of marriage has resulted in a rise in couples' preference for cohabitation. Consequently, alternative options or "trial" alternatives to marriage have surfaced, allowing individuals to evaluate their compatibility prior to fully committing. This trend has prompted a comparison between marriage and buying a car, as people now desire a "test drive" experience before making a final choice. The reasons behind this shift are varied; some perceive it as an unsuitable moment for marriage, while others see cohabitation as a means of avoiding divorce.

Despite its increasing prevalence, cohabitation may hinder rather than promote the growth of young relationships. The percentage of marriages preceded by cohabitation has significantly risen over the years, from around 10 percent in 1965 to over 50 percent in 1994. Likewise, approximately 48 percent of women in their late thirties acknowledge


d having lived together at least once in 1995.

A study conducted by researchers from Yale University, Columbia University, and the Institute for Resource Development at Westinghouse revealed that women who live together experience divorce rates that are almost 80 percent higher compared to those who do not cohabit. Additionally, a recent study led by researcher Pamela Smock at the University of Michigan found that eventually, 55 percent of couples who live together end up getting married, while 40 percent end their relationship within five years. Smock also highlighted that premarital cohabitation is associated with lower marital quality and an increased risk of divorce. Cohabiting couples often demonstrate less long-term commitment to their relationship, whereas marriage signifies a stronger commitment resulting in greater willingness to resolve differences and avoid separation. A report titled "Marriage Matters: A Social Analysi

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of the State of the Union" released by Family First emphasizes the significant value of marriage in terms of improving overall quality of life.

Marriage provides numerous benefits, such as heightened happiness and enhanced well-being. Married people generally enjoy longer and healthier lives than unmarried individuals. Moreover, children brought up in married households are less inclined to partake in premarital sex or demonstrate behavioral problems. Throughout time, marriage has consistently remained the primary type of domestic partnership. It serves as a fundamental element of human culture, akin to the significance of atoms in the physical realm. Consequently, marriage plays a vital role in fostering a flourishing and industrious society.

The attempt to replace cohabitation will fracture and hinder a couple's prospects for a long and healthy marriage. The nature of living together is ambiguous - it can be perceived as a trend, tradition, or trial period. Human relationships do not conform to a specific formula. What may be harmful to one individual may be desirable to another.

Cohabitation can either be seen as undesirable or valuable, just like how a casual encounter for one person could lead to a lifelong commitment for another. In addition to famous weddings being disrupted and love and marriage becoming commodities, the decline of the traditional concept of lifelong commitment, cohabitation is another societal phenomenon that contributes to the decreasing number of successful marriages.

The societal belief in marriage has decreased due to the acceptance of cohabitation. As divorce rates increase, it raises the question whether humans are returning to polygamy or if this is simply a natural evolution of human nature. Marriage, being a social construct, aligns with the naturally social nature of

humans; the exceptions only further support this notion.

The high divorce rates may indicate an intricate balance between the desire for love, commitment, and stability, and the overpowering longing for freedom of thought, desire, and expression. Cohabitation offers individuals an opportunity to experience companionship without the concern of permanence. In a world where life expectancy is at its peak and constant change is prevalent, people yearn for reassurance that they are not restricted and always have the option of freedom. They can lessen their obligations and make substantial alterations to their lives without defying societal norms.

Living together gives people a feeling of having power over a situation that is often missing in marriage. Divorced individuals are frequently stigmatized and seen as problematic, making them unappealing romantic partners. In the popular TV show Friends, Ross exemplifies this by going to great lengths to conceal his three divorces before the age of 30. If he had just ended his relationships without getting married, it would have been perceived as a normal breakup. This illustrates the distinction between cohabitation and marriage.

In the mid-1960s, a mere 5% of single women cohabitated with a partner prior to marriage. Nevertheless, this percentage skyrocketed to approximately 70% by the 1990s. Despite assertions that cohabitation invariably leads to matrimony, numerous such unions ultimately dissolve. For some couples, residing together serves as an alternative to marriage rather than progression towards it. Nonetheless, when compared to wedlock, cohabitation is less inclined to culminate in enduring and steadfast devotion.

Stability: Cohabiting relationships, regardless of age or income, have a higher likelihood of ending compared to simultaneous marriages. Cohabitations typically last less than two years and often either result

in a breakup or transition into marriage. It is important to note that only a small percentage (less than four percent) of cohabitations endure for ten years or more. Additionally, the duration and frequency of cohabitation impact future marriages as they increase the chances of divorce. Infidelity may also play a role.

Both men and women in cohabiting relationships are more likely to cheat compared to married individuals. Cohabiting couples, regardless of their socioeconomic status, tend to accumulate less wealth than married couples. Married men earn 10 to 40 percent more than single or cohabiting men and experience greater career success, especially after becoming fathers. However, married women without children earn a similar income to childless single or cohabiting women. Nonetheless, both married and unmarried women who take time off work for motherhood face a decrease in earning power. Balancing caregiving responsibilities with careers is difficult for cohabiting and single mothers because they have limited access to the father's income. In terms of health, cohabitants generally experience more health problems compared to married individuals possibly due to tolerating behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse in their partners that would be discouraged in a marital relationship. Additionally, cohabitants are more prone to depression compared to married individuals. Lastly, wives in cohabiting relationships are at higher risk of domestic violence.

The research findings suggest that being married is the most important predictor of abuse, more so than factors like race, age, education, and housing conditions. To prevent unmarried young adults from facing emotional distress and to promote successful long-term relationships and marriage, we propose four principles. These principles are supported by existing evidence and have proven

effective in avoiding setbacks in one's romantic life:
1. It is recommended to avoid living together before marriage as it does not seem to provide any advantages and may actually be harmful when used as a test for marriage.

There is no evidence to suggest that cohabiting before marriage results in a stronger marriage compared to those who do not live together. In fact, some evidence indicates that couples who live together before getting married are more likely to experience a breakup after they tie the knot.

Nevertheless, if cohabitation does happen prior to the wedding and both partners have made a formal commitment to marry, publicly announced their engagement, and have set a specific wedding date, it may be potentially less harmful but not necessarily advantageous. It is also advisable not to make a habit of cohabiting.

When it comes to the risks associated with multiple experiences of living together, it is important to exercise caution for the sake of your well-being and the likelihood of building a strong lifelong partnership. Contrary to popular belief, having multiple failed cohabiting relationships does not improve relationship skills. In fact, having multiple cohabiting experiences suggests a higher chance of future relationship failures.

To ensure success, it is advisable to keep the duration of cohabitation as short as possible. The longer you live with your partner, the more likely you are to adopt a low-commitment mindset that contradicts what is necessary for a successful marriage.

If you have children, it is best not to cohabit. Children deserve parents who are dedicated to maintaining a long-term commitment. Cohabiting parents experience higher separation rates compared to married parents, which can result in severe and lasting

consequences for their children. Additionally, children in cohabiting arrangements face greater risks of sexual abuse and physical violence, including fatal violence when compared to children living with married parents.

Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the adverse effects that cohabitation can have on children.

The most problematic form of cohabitation is when children are involved. In 1997, 36% of unmarried-couple households had a child under eighteen, which increased from 21% in 1987. The percentage of unmarried couples with children aged 25-34 is even higher, with almost half having children. Recent estimates show that around 50% of all children will experience living in a cohabiting family before they turn sixteen.

Children living with cohabiting couples face the high likelihood of their parents breaking up. About three quarters (75%) of children born to cohabiting parents will witness their parents' separation before they reach sixteen, compared to only about a third (33%) of children born to married parents.

A contributing factor to this trend is the declining marriage rates among cohabiting couples. Over the past decade, the percentage of cohabiting mothers who eventually marry the child's father has decreased from 57% to 44%.

It is widely acknowledged that parental breakups result in various personal and social difficulties for children, some of which can have long-lasting effects.

Research has shown that children raised by cohabiting couples may face increased difficulties. A study found that children living with an unmarried mother and her partner had more behavioral issues and lower academic achievement compared to those in intact families (27). It is important to note that the majority of children in these households were not born within the current relationship but from a previous one, often the

mother's (8). As a result, these children live with either an unmarried stepfather or their mother's boyfriend, leading to unstable economic and social situations. If the couple separates, these children have no legal right to receive child support. Furthermore, there has been a significant annual increase of over 10% in child abuse cases (29), which many researchers believe is linked to changes in family structures.

Contrary to expectations, the American data does not differentiate between abuse in households of married couples and cohabiting couples. Nonetheless, research has been conducted on the occurrence of abuse in stepfamily households (both married and unmarried) as well as with mothers' boyfriends (both cohabiting and dating), demonstrating considerably higher rates of child abuse compared to intact families. In Great Britain, a study did investigate the correlation between child abuse and parents' family structure and marital history, uncovering worrisome findings.

Research has shown that children who live with cohabiting unmarried biological parents are at a much higher risk of experiencing child abuse compared to those living with married biological parents. This risk increases even more if the child lives with a mother and her cohabiting boyfriend who is not the father, raising the likelihood to 33 times. Conversely, if the child resides with a single biological mother, the rate of abuse is 14 times higher. These findings emphasize that the most unsafe family environment for children occurs when the mother cohabits with someone other than their biological father, which is common in households of cohabiting couples.

The significant differences in abuse rates can be partially attributed to varying income levels among these families. It should be noted that cohabiting couples generally have lower incomes

compared to married couples. While it is widely known that children raised by single parents face economic disadvantages compared to those from married families, it is less acknowledged that cohabiting couples have an economic status more similar to single parents rather than married couples.

In 1996, the poverty rate for children in married couple households was approximately 6%. However, children living in cohabiting households had a notably higher rate of 31%, while families led by single mothers had a rate of 45%. This underscores the significance of marriage as a means to increase wealth. According to a study, couples who raise children while cohabiting have roughly two-thirds of the income compared to married couples. This disparity primarily stems from male cohabiting partners earning only about half as much as their married counterparts. The choice to cohabit rather than marry often involves less affluent men and their partners. Nonetheless, men who opt for marriage, particularly those with children, tend to become more responsible and productive, ultimately earning more than unmarried individuals. Another crucial aspect is that there is less private transfer of wealth among extended family members for cohabiting couples when juxtaposed with married couples. This demonstrates that family members are more inclined to transfer wealth to spouses instead of mere partners.

While some people believe that having children together indicates commitment and stability in a cohabiting couple, the reality is that couples with children are actually more likely to separate compared to those without. Around 15 percent of single-parent families come from the dissolution of cohabiting unions. A study found that less than ten percent of women who have their first child while living together remain cohabiting

after ten years. Approximately 40 percent choose marriage, while 50 percent become lone unmarried mothers due to relationship breakdowns.

Currently, over 20% of children are born into cohabiting couples. However, only about one third of these children will experience both parents throughout their childhood. This is because cohabiting couples with children have a higher likelihood of breaking up, and those who decide to marry following cohabitation tend to divorce earlier on. As a result, children born into cohabitation often face multiple disruptions in their family life which can negatively impact their emotional and educational development.

Children who live with cohabiting couples experience negative outcomes in terms of their academic performance and emotional well-being. They also have a lower economic status compared to children whose parents are married. Cohabiting fathers are less likely than married fathers to provide financial support for their children. Even after the dissolution of their parents' relationship, children of divorced parents are more likely to receive support from their fathers compared to children of separated cohabiting couples.

It is important to note that unmarried fathers, including those who cohabit with the mother of their children, do not possess the same legal rights as married or divorced fathers. Additionally, if there is a parental breakup, children born to cohabiting couples are less likely than those whose parents are divorced to maintain contact with their fathers.

(Source: Berthoud, R. and Gershuny, J., editors, Seven Years in the Lives of British Families, London: The Policy Press, 2000, p. 40.)

In addition,
when married or cohabiting couples with children divorce or separate,
one parent may choose
to remarry or move in with a new partner,
who may then take on the role of

a step-parent.

Approximately 5% of children will live in a formalized step-family before reaching seventeen years old, according to one scholar. In these families, the mother is usually the one who has remarried. Additionally, over 7% of children will live in an informal 'step-family' where their mother is cohabiting with someone who is not biologically or legally related to her child. These informal cohabiting step-families pose the highest risk for children from a statistical standpoint. Children living in cohabiting step-families are significantly more vulnerable to experiencing child abuse.

A study has revealed that live-in and visiting boyfriends have a higher likelihood of causing severe physical abuse, sexual abuse, and child killing compared to biological fathers or married step-fathers. The study also indicates that young men living in step-families are 1.4 times more prone to being serious or persistent offenders. Similarly, young women in step-families face a 2.25 times greater risk of becoming serious offenders. Moreover, over twenty percent of young individuals residing in step-families choose to run away from home.

In conclusion,

Despite the widespread acceptance of unmarried cohabitation among young people, there is an increasing amount of evidence indicating that this trend has negative implications for both children and society. The increase in cohabitation has had detrimental effects on marriage and the traditional nuclear family structure, resulting in unfavorable outcomes for social welfare, especially for women and children. Although we cannot alter what has already occurred, it is essential to establish regulations for cohabitation and carefully evaluate the ongoing normalization of this non-traditional family arrangement.

Our belief is that instead of institutionalizing cohabitation, it is crucial to rejuvenate marriage while aligning it with contemporary egalitarian principles rather than

the traditional male-dominant structure. A vital aspect of this revitalization involves educating young individuals about marriage from an early age. By providing guidance in selecting life partners and emphasizing the importance of long-term commitment, we can shape a generation that values enduring unions. This educational initiative can capitalize on the fact that a majority of our nation's youth still aspire to be involved in a monogamous marriage for the long term.

Our primary goal is to engage in a conversation with the American public, especially societal leaders. While our findings on cohabitation are not conclusive and may change as more research becomes available, it is important to emphasize the need for further exploration in this area. However, our current focus is on sparking a nationwide dialogue about an often neglected topic that holds significant significance for the future of marriage and future generations.

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