Cohabitation “Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milk for Free?” The Problem

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  • “Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milk for Free?”

The Problem

  • Cohabitation violates the institute of marriage by lacking a true commitment.
  • Cohabitation
    • Living together in a sexual relationship without being married

Background Leading to the Problem

  • In 1960, of the 52,799,000 households, only 439,000 were unmarried cohabitants as opposed to 104,705,000 households in 2000.
  • In the 2000, there were 4,736,000 unmarried cohabitants in the United States.

Reasons Given for Cohabitation

  • Economic advantages
    • “We can save money by sharing living expenses.”
  • Time together
    • “We are able to spend more time together.”

Reasons for Cohabitation (cont.)

  • Increased intimacy
    • “We have more opportunities to share sexual and emotional intimacy without getting married.”
  • Less complicated dissolution
    • “If the relationship doesn’t work out, there is no messy divorce.”

Reasons for Cohabitation (cont.)

  • “Testing” compatibility
    • “Living together enables us to better learn about each other’s habits and character and see how we operate together day-to-day.”
  • Trial marriage
    • “We are planning to marry soon.”

New Info on Cohabitation

  • Cohabitation is on the rise for older individuals
  • Reasons:
    • Avoid loss of financial benefits such as alimony, welfare, or pension checks
    • Loss of a spouse to death or divorce and fear of losing another spouse
    • Pain and anger as a result of a divorce

Health Effects of Cohabitation

  • Increased risk of drug abuse
  • Higher risk of physical, emotional, and mental abuse
  • Unstable relationship
  • Higher overall rates of violence among cohabitors.
  • Violent relationship can lead to depression, suicide, homicide, or death.

Possible Solutions

  • Do Not Cohabitate
    • Have faith in your relationship
    • Have high self-esteem
  • Legal Cohabitation Agreement
    • Entered into by unmarried person who live together
    • In agreement, the parties can agree with respect to acquisition, disposition of property upon separation, personal rights, obligation of either party, control of property, etc.

Best Solution

  • Refrain from Cohabitation
    • Couples living together have the lowest level of premarital satisfaction when compared to other living arrangements.
    • Married couples that cohabitated prior to marriage have poorer communication skills in discussing problems than couples that did not cohabitate.
    • Cohabitating couples are less sexually committed and trustworthy.


  • Cohabitation rates increased from 500,000 in 1970 to 5.5 million people cohabitating in 2000
  • 60-75% of first marriages preceded by cohabitation
  • 80-85% of re-marriages preceded by cohabitation


  • Delay of marriage until median age of 25 for females and 27 for males
  • Concern over continuing high rates of divorce has led to couples seeking a weaker form of union with less commitment to lifelong marriage


  • Several studies show that cohabitating increases the risk of drug use and physical, mental , and emotional abuse.
  • Overall rates of violence in cohabitating couples were double that of married couples and severe violence was 5 times higher for cohabitors.


  • Cohabitating couples have lower levels of personal happiness and higher rates of depression than married couples
  • Cohabitors have more negative attitudes about marriage than non-cohabitors.


  • Do Not Cohabitate
    • Best solution
      • Marriages preceded by cohabitation are more likely to end in divorce.
      • Cohabitation is generally not a good way to prepare for marriage or to avoid divorce.
  • Legal Cohabitation Agreement

“The Bottom Line”

  • Lack of commitment to marriage
    • A strong commitment is the basis of marriage.
    • Cohabitating couples are more oriented toward their own personal autonomy.
    • Cohabitors are more willing to terminate the relationship.
  • Inability to make a decision about marriage
    • Cohabitation reflects uncertainty.

The End Result

  • Continuing to cohabitate will continue to raise the divorce rate for couples who do get married after cohabitation.
  • Cohabitation increases the chances of having children out of wedlock.
  • Ending the cohabitation and divorce will result in single parent homes.

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