Other Free Encyclopedias » Marriage and Family Encyclopedia » Family Theory & Types of Families » Cohabitation - Trends And Patterns, Reasons For Cohabitation, Meanings Of Cohabitation, Consequences Of Cohabitation, Conclusion

Cohabitation - Meanings Of Cohabitation

family marriage alternative single preceded

First, in most instances, cohabitation serves as a transitional stage between single and married life. Cohabitation is perceived as a trial marriage that is meant to assess the viability of the partnership in the long term. In this sense, cohabitation is a pragmatic option because of its potential to weed out bad matches before marriage, with the putative intention being less chance of divorce. As noted above, the majority of cohabiting couples expect to transform their cohabitation into marriage, and most do. For example, cohabitation has rapidly become an antecedent to marriage in Britain. About 6 percent of British first marriages from 1965 to 1969 were preceded by cohabitation; in contrast, about 58 percent were preceded by cohabitation from 1985 to 1988. This trend has been more pronounced for remarriages. In the 1960s, about onequarter of all remarriages were preceded by cohabitation compared to more than two-thirds by the late 1980s (Kiernan and Estaugh 1993).

Second, cohabitation is also an alternative to marriage. In some cases, this means a renouncement of marriage. For most couples, however, cohabitation is not a rejection of marriage, but an alternative union that expresses the reality that marriage is not the defining characteristic of their family lives (Seltzer 2000). Cohabitation exists as an alternative when marriage is not immediately desirable, practical, or possible. Cohabitation requires comparatively less economic and social commitment, and it is generally regarded as more flexible and egalitarian than marriage. Hence, cohabitation is attractive to people who have personal goals that might be disrupted by marriage, or by people who cannot form a marriage for financial or legal reasons.

Third, some observers argue that cohabitation is an alternative to being single. Ronald Rindfuss and Audrey VandenHeuvel (1990) suggest that, although cohabitation is similar to marriage in some ways, it is also appropriate to compare it to single life. From this point of view, cohabitation occupies an intermediate position between singlehood and marriage. Although cohabiters obviously embrace some of the characteristics of marriage, such as shared household and sexual intimacy, in terms of fertility, non-familial activities, and homeownership, their behavior has more in common with single people than the married. Hence, Rindfuss and VandenHeuvel argue that cohabitation is not necessarily a premarital phase or an alternative to marriage, but can be an intensification of the dating experience.

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about 6 years ago

i'm interested in the article for research work