If you turn on any romantic movie the chance is you watch two people, one male and one women fall in love after months of dating. After they spend a few years of dating they get engaged and then married and then they move in together and get married. That is the “normal” way to fall in love and have a family and significant other. However, that is starting to become the old “normal” and we are shifting to a whole new sense of “normal” and love life. This new normal is shifting from moving in together after marriage to cohabitation which is when you and your significant other decide to live together without being married. More and more people are leaning toward cohabitation before getting married or without marriage at all.
I decided to call up my twin sister Nicole who has been dating her boyfriend now for over a year and has been living with him at her school apartment. When I asked her on how she felt about this topic she was quick to answer and say she saw nothing wrong with it. In the short time her boyfriend and her have been dating not only have they learned so much about each other but they have been able to form a close bond that allows them be open and honest with one another. My sister stated that she” wouldn’t have fallen in love with him as quick as she did without living together and learning everything about one another.”
With my sister being so for cohabitation I dug deeper into the internet to see why more and more people are shifting from living together after marriage to before it along with how many people are actually following this new trend.
According to a Pew Research Center report on November 6th, 2019 a majority of adults ranging from age 18 to 44 have cohabited at some point in their lives. According to this report 59% have cohabited while 50% have been married. The Institute for Family Studies released an article on June 20th, 2018 called Cohabitation is Pervasive. This report shows that as of 2015 17.1% of women and 15.9% of men were cohabiting while 44.9% of women and 43.5% of men were married. However, 67% of those who are currently married had cohabited before marriage. The article also states “Thus, a very high percentage of people in the U.S. cohabit outside of marriage. It is now normative behavior. Wendy Manning has estimated that “[t]hepercentage of women ages 19-44 who have ever cohabited has increased by 82% over the past 23 years.”” It is clearly obvious that the number of people cohabiting now a day has increased drastically but what is drawing people towards cohabitation over marriage first?
I decided to call my mom who has been married now for over 25 years with my dad to ask her why she thinks that more and more people decide to live together before getting married. My mom talked a lot about finances. Everything now a day is so expensive, nothing comes cheap. Houses, apartments, food, college etc. is so expensive. My mom stated that “Weddings are also very expensive so a lot of people are choosing to live together first to make sure that they are making the right choice before spending an arm and leg to marry someone”
In the same Pew Research Center report, it shares some reason and stats on why people are financially choosing to cohabitate before getting married. The two main concerns for not getting married first has to do with their partner or themselves not be financially ready to commit to marriage. In an article called The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Insteadreleased by The Atlantic on February 7th, 2012 it talks about divorce and the cost associated with it. It is very hard financially and legally to break up a marriage then a relationship in which you are just living together. The article states “The bottom line is that both sexes, and particularly people who are less financially stable, are more reluctant to get married than they were a few decades ago. There are very real hardships associated with divorce, and the current economic climate makes them scarier than they might be in easier times.” So overall, my mom was correct in a way. People aren’t trying to make sure it’s the right thing to spend money on a wedding but instead they are trying to save themselves from being stuck in an unhealthy relationship dealing with the legal and financial issues that come with getting a divorce.
Finances are clearly a huge reason on why people are leaning towards cohabitation but money isn’t everything in life or in a relationship. What other reasons are helping people be more comfortable with living together without the ring?
The Pew Research Center report also shares a nice statistical breakdown comparing a lot of the reasons why people live together and show how it compares to those married and those not married. As you can see love, companionship and pregnancy are all very close in terms of percentages however there is a decent gap in regards to formal commitments, finances, wanting children, convenience and testing the relationship. As my sister stated early she is for cohabitation as she feels like she has really learned a lot about her boyfriend that has helped her vison a future with him. The Collegian released an article called Cohabitation good way to test relationship before marriage on December 3rd, 2012. It states in this article that by sharing a home, couples can really get to know each other’s living habits, test out their compatibility and increase their level of comfort; it can basically be a test for their future.” Which ultimately can help these couples plan and create the best life together so that they can make the best decisions for love and financially as possible.