Marriage and Cohabitation


Marriage has been part of society for thousands of years and there is a form of marriage in every culture. In Merriam-Webster marriage is defined as “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law”. Being from a different country like Ghana, marriage would be defined differently because the law had nothing to do with marriage when my parents were growing up. When two people wanted to marry the man would go see the woman’s father and the two families would negotiate a bride price and the two would be married and will be considered husband and wife, no signing of documents just an exchange of gifts and money for the bride. With modern and western influences, certain things in Ghana require a marriage certificate but there are marriages still done the old fashioned way.

So is marriage and all the court documents and title of husband and wife really necessary? Why can’t two people just move into together and say that they are together? There has been a rise in cohabitation here in the United States and Europe. An article I read on the California Family Council website it talks about how before the sexual revolution in the 1960 society frowned upon couples living together outside of marriage. In the last forty years that has changed and has risen the age of adults when they first marry and when they are living together. Cohabitation has become the most popular type of relationship amongst adults in their twenties.

There was research that was done and the reasons why couples cohabitate are they want to test marital compatibility before marriage, desire for increased time together, financial security and convenience. The research also showed that between both genders expected a high degree of love, commitment and fidelity in their relationships. Most of the couples who were cohabiting saw marriage as the ultimate goal but the research showed that at least eight out of ten couples that live together will break up before the wedding, or afterwards in divorce. Further, the relationship skills and depth of commitment found in successful marriages are rarely found in cohabitating relationships.

So the research would suggest that cohabitation is a bad idea for society. I for one do not see much being wrong with cohabitation if it is being done with the right frame of mind that marriage being the ultimate goal and not just to escape responsibility and fool around with your partner. The term marriage is being redefined as time goes on. The supreme court is hearing cases this week on proposition eight and DOMA where they could possibly make history and allow people of the same sex be allowed to wed and considered a couple here in the United States. As society changes so will the idea of marriage equality and gender equality change. Pretty soon it will no longer be taboo to see more of same sex couples together in public as it is now.


About Lexo

I am a senior at Old Dominion University and I am graduating in May. My major is Criminal Justice and minor in Management. I do want to go to law school after I graduate, and one day become a lawyer.
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2 Responses to Marriage and Cohabitation

  1. This is a great post! I have always wondered why the government is in the business of recognizing people’s marriages in the first place. I have a question about the research you are citing. You say that they conclude that cohabitation is bad for society, but I didn’t understand why. You did make the point that only 20% of cohabitations result in a stable marriage without divorce, but what did that have to do with society?

    • Alex says:

      This is directly from the article citing why cohabitation is bad “The challenge facing society today is to destroy the myth that cohabitation is a good alternative or “test run” for marriage. As scholars and researchers examine cohabitation, they find that living together increases acceptance of divorce and devalues marriage. Further, there are a host of negative consequences that are associated with cohabitation, which are magnified if children are involved”.

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