Cohabiting can be said as a union between two people, as a form of a long-term relationship which is similar to a marriage, although the two people are not married. The reason as to why people cohabit vary, with some people preferring to cohabit as a way of first testing how compatible they are, before they legalize their union. There are those who do it for financial reasons, including sharing of financial responsibilities. Some are faced by legal hindrances where for example they are married to other people, and the law therefore does not allow for them to get married before the previous marriage(s) is dissolved. Gay and lesbian couples living in countries or states where their union is not recognized by law may opt to settle for cohabitation.
Society has a different ways in which it expects its members judge different situations, and the issue of cohabitation has not been spared either. There are those in the society who advocate or support cohabitation, and there are those who with their own reasons are against it. Most of those who are against cohabitation cite such reasons as philosophical, moral or religious. The ones who oppose it on philosophical grounds claim that since cohabitation is not really marriage, it cannot be used to test whether marriage will be successful between cohabiting couples. They argue that for one to know whether a marriage will be successful, actual marriage has to happen (Olson, DeFrain & Skogrand, 2010).
Out of these reasons, choosing a partner with who to cohabitate with should not be considered less serious than choosing a marriage partner. For this reason, factors that are considered when choosing a marriage partner such as physical attraction, success in life, personality, age and endogamy and exogamy principles should not be overlooked. This should not be withstanding cultural diversity, considering that the society in the modern world especially in the US is characterized by mixed and racial differences (Olson, DeFrain & Skogrand, 2010).
Cohabitation does not mean that there is no conflict, especially for those who prefer cohabitation as a way of testing their compatibility. Living together in a cohabitation arrangement also go through the same pains and hurt those in formal marriages experience. The pain of breaking up is the same as that of those who have lived as a legally married couple. It would therefore be ignorant to assume cohabitation as less serious and less painful than a legal marriage union. This is irrespective of age a concurrence with researchers that emotions are felt equally even by older people.
Those who oppose cohabitation on religious grounds claim that religion does not allow for a couple to live together and enjoy all the fruits of married life if they are not really married. They call it a sin. This is not so different from the argument given by those who oppose cohabitation on moral grounds, other than they oppose it claiming that it is a way of life which defies the moral standing of the society. This group argues that the society does not allow for two people to live together if it is not involved in formalizing the union, through for example informing family and relatives and getting their nod for the union. It is an agreeable point that everyone comes from a community, the values of that community mould the person. Such arrangements like cohabitation should then be done in accordance to the societal norms, which would then make the union formal.
Cohabitation has become a popular preference by many Americans as people try to relate in a more committed way as they also seek to play safe, due to the complexities that are perceived to exist in formal marriages. It has become the order of the day for many to cohabit before getting married. Although it is being opposed from different as well as many quarters, cohabitation accounts for its significant share in leading to marriage. It is for this reason that those who are planning to cohabit should put into consideration the fact that cohabitation is more of a marriage than a dating relationship.
Olson, D. H., DeFrain, J. & Skogrand, L. (2010). Marriages and Families Intimacy, Diversity, and Strengths - Seventh Edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Education.