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Introduction

Living together also known as cohabitation is quickly becoming the union of choice especially so for young persons in the U.S.A. Cohabitation which is a 'loose' union for convenience sake is being viewed as a choice due to the high rate of divorce while ironically this practice may be a contributor to these same high rates of divorce. The purpose of this study and paper is to comparatively analyze living together versus getting married.

An overview of cohabitation and marriage presently indicate that more and more young men and women are opting to live together and they generally consider this a good way of experiencing some of the benefits of marriage while they avoid the risk associated with divorce. Today's and commonly society's perception in the U.S.A.especially is that it is acceptable to cohabit before getting into marriage (Brown & Booth, 1996). However research continues to reveal that living together infact increases the chances of break ups or divorces in marriage institutions. Marriage on the other hand stands out as a legally defined union between two consenting parties. The two are bound by a commitment and each of them will assume certain responsibilities in that marriage upon consummation of that marriage.

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The couples are therefore legally bound by this understanding and work towards sustaining this commitment.

Cohabitation versus Marriage

Presently the general trend among many young people especially in America points to the fact that cohabitation or living together is increasingly becoming preferred as a way of testing marital compatibility. While this may be now becoming socially acceptable, research is indicating otherwise. The fact that a couple can live together sharing everything  yet being unable to nurture or sustain a commitment eventually going separate ways indicates a lack of commitment which is the very necessary ingredient for marriage (Franck,2010)

This therefore points to the fact that cohabitation may be one of the contributing factors to the high rates of divorce presently in the U.S.A. The correlation here would be that living together or cohabiting couples are unconventional and therefore are less committed to the marriage institution. No evidence is presently available therefore to support the fact that cohabitation results in stronger institutions of marriage rather it serves to weaken them.

While getting married, couple will enjoy a number of benefits over their cohabiting or living together counterparts.

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The long term contract in a marriage will ensure emotional investment by both partners a case that is very unlikely in a living together setup. The long term contract that bases on a need for commitment to each other ensures that couples in a marriage complement each other's inherent strengths and weaknesses to bring about a balance and better the marriage. On the other hand a lack of commitment in the living together setup leads to each partner first and foremost putting their interests ahead over the other one's due to the fact that the union here is not legally defined and therefore loose and only based on mutual understanding between the parties involved.

Married couples are also able to share economic and social resources while providing insurance for each other during uncertainties and against unexpected events. This is unlikely for the living together couple who for most times are concerned with their personal interests within this arrangement. Married couples will educe a socially stable perception promoting their acceptance and connection to the larger community consisting of in-laws and the society at large. The living together couple demonstrates less of this influence due to the fact that theirs is perceived as a trial arrangement that in its fragility cannot sustain the expanded community network. Therefore this couple tends to shun the larger community who may be a source of emotional and social support (Cohabit.html. smart marriages, 2010).

A more complex perspective arises especially for the living together approach where children are involved. The instability and informal commitment that is characteristic of the living together family has a negative impact on the children's upkeep and welfare. The effects are less for the married couple who due to commitment provide a more stable environment for the children upkeep and welfare (Cahill,Sowle & Dietmar, 1995). Study indicates that children living with a living together couple developed more behaviour problems and were often academically affected as compared to those within the married group. Higher percentages of abuses both child and adult are more evident in living together couples than in married couples which may be due to the fact that the undefined union in the living together setup gives whichever partner to carrying out any form of abuse and get away with it.

Conclusion

As statistics continue to point to the fact that living together arrangements are on the increase in direct proportion to the rate of divorces in the U.

S.A. there is need for redress in order to save the institution of marriage. This however is going to take a concerted effort by various stakeholders who have the negative effects on children and society of the living together arrangements. Living together must be completely delinked from marriage, and that the norm that living together would eventually lead into marriage and for that matter a steady one must be discouraged.

Young people must be taught and encouraged to exercise commitment which is an important aspect of a marriage and society must revert to frowning at living together in order to save the marriage institution in the U.S.A.

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