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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Cohabitation - 1477 words
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Things have changed a great deal from the Puritanical beliefs integrated long ago that said people must have a license in order to live together. Now, blended families are commonplace and 'marriages' between people of the same sex are a reality. The history of marriage and family is actually filled with a variety of thought quite foreign to say, the average American. Marriage was often an agreement of practicality, arranged to provide a linkage between family fortunes. The film Titanic exemplifies this type of thinking even as late as the turn of the century.
Thus, it is only in relatively recent history that marriage has been looked at in terms of romance. Although throughout the twentieth century the subject of marriage is linked with white wedding dresses and three tiered whipped cream cakes, it has also broached the question of whether or not the committed couple should live together before the big wedding day. While it is less controversial today than, say, fifty years ago, some still call it 'living in sin.' The primary objections stem from a religious point of view and those who do choose to cohabit before the ink is dry on the marriage license are subject to criticism. Maclean's reports that such living arrangements used to be considered lower class but new statistics reveal that these so-called common law marriages are much more widespread (Maclean's 14). The number of couples living together in Canada, without benefit of marriage, almost tripled between 1981 and 1995 (14). Some suggest that the increase is attributable to the fact that the arrangement has much less of a stigma attached now (14). The reason that the stigma is lessened is due to the fact that the current people in their twenties have parents who have also cohabited before marriage
This is the first time that this phenomenon has occurred as the boomers began the loosening of sexual mores in the society during the turbulent sixties. While it is true that living together is more acceptable, it is far from widely acceptable in the still rigid American culture. It is interesting to note that during the period from 1960 to 1980, the divorce rate doubled (Nadeau 312). Studies show that divorce was most common in the second year of marriage (312). Because it was also a time that people began to live together more frequently, researchers began to ask if that had anything to do with the increasing divorce rate. But no correlation was found.
In fact, Fisher found that even though the number of American couples living together tripled in the seventies, the peak year for divorce among married couples remained the same (312).Living together may have some effect on an impending marriage. Of course, the obvious effect would be that the couple realizes that they are not right for each other, or marriage is not right for them, and they would not marry at all. There are also those relationships that seem to go on endlessly and never culminate in a commitment, even though one party or another want to make things official. Cohabiting prior to marriage would likely not have much of a positive or negative effect in today's society because the actual relationship would stay the same regardless of the living arrangements. If any effect would be noticeable at all, it would be the effect on the children the couple have or would have in the future of the relationship. Statistics show that the number of children living in families with married couples declined from 88% (Furstenberg 34) in 1960 to 69% (34) in 1994. Divorce does explain the drop to some extent, but much of the change may be attributed to the rise in nonmarital childbearing (34). Births occurring out of wedlock went from a mere 5% (34) in 1960 to 31% (34) in 1993.
Some of these have occurred among couples who are living together; however, the vast majority of these babies were born to single parents (34). Thus, when people live together it should not affect 'the family.' Many people do decide to make it legal at some point during cohabitation and it is not necessarily true that more out of wedlock babies are born to cohabiting couples. The statistics do not support that assumption.Often, people live together for practical reasons such as sharing expenses. If there is no religious dictum in the way, this arrangement should not negatively affect the future marriage. However, for people who have a particular religious reservation the combination of personal guilt and being labeled a sinner in the eyes of the church, to name just two conflicts, could indeed affect the marriage.
In such an instance living together could conceivably set up a risk factor by putting additional strife on the union. Marriage is difficult enough in the newlywed years. Living together for practical reasons, say to save for a big church wedding, may not be a good solution.There are other reasons why people move in together. It is interesting to note that there is less marriage and more out of wedlock babies being born in poorer communities. Many young people who have low incomes believe that they lack the wherewithal to enter marriage (Furstenberg 34). They feel as if marriage has become a luxury consumer item, available only to those who have the means (34).
Thus, living together, as well as single-parenthood, has become the 'budget' method for starting a family (34). Many low-income people interviewed claimed that they wanted to get married, they just couldn't afford to do so (34). Marriage can be expensive. Perhaps it is the media, playing up extravagant weddings, that is responsible for people feeling so pessimistic about the cost. In many cases, the couple doesn't even want a big church wedding with all the trimmings. It could be the 'head of household' status they would lose on their income tax returns that would be so costly. It does seem that a society, which claims to value marriage, it discourages weddings from taking place due to the financial burden it places on poorer individuals.Smith suggests that marriage can increase family wealth (Hao 269).
One reason is that the household division of labor between spouses implies that the total product of a married couple is larger than the sum of the outputs of each (Becker cited in Hao 269). Also, a couple can achieve the same utility with less combined expenditure than the sum of their individual consumptions if living apart (269). These two reasons show that marriage should expand savings rather than cost more. While this is generally true, and that is what often throws unmarried couples together in the first place, for the poor who receive government benefits, or tax credits, this is simply not the case. Thus, poorer individuals who cohabit, but remain unmarried, can achieve benefits of both the effect of a combined income and the ability to claim government handouts as well.Furstenberg says that marriage is 'both a cause and a consequence of economic, cultural, and psychological stratification in American society' (34). It is true.
A vicious cycle erupts as those who feel out of the loop, are further stigmatized by having out of wedlock children. It is further a way to oppress the masses. While some poor people do cohabit in order to reap economic benefits, there are still a great many people who do so by choice. Another issue that needs to be brought up, in terms of cohabitation and marriage is the long distance relationship. While married couples generally do live together, with the emergence of relocation trends and two career couples a norm, some choose to live in different cities for convenience.
Thus, today, if the traditional breadwinning male must be transferred it is sometimes the case that the wife will remain with the children in their established home, whether or not she has a career. Sometimes it is the career that keeps a spouse from making the move, but sometimes it is a reluctance to pull up roots every three years at a company's whim. Some couples have chosen to stay married but not cohabit. One may wonder how this affects a marriage. While living together before marriage does not seem to affect the couple or family if the marriage does happen within a reasonable period of time, living apart could conceivably pull a couple apart. Living apart can be a strain, resulting in infidelity or a change in what was once a common direction.
The couple can become estranged. It is obvious that living apart can tear a marriage apart. By living apart, families miss out on help received from kin and friends of the partner (Hao 269). Marriage also institutionalizes the obligations of both parents to raise children (269). Thus, although a legal document legitimizes the relationship, it is probably more dangerous for a relationship not to live together than to cohabit without the marriage license.
There is no evidence that cohabitation is detrimental to a relationship. In fact, it is probably beneficial to the relationship..
Research paper and essay writing, free essay topics, sample works Cohabitation
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