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My Aunt June and her husband Christopher started to date in their early twenties. They were lovebirds who could let nothing come in between their new found love as my Aunt recounted to me. Christopher, however, was not an emotional person, and he seemed to have little affection for his wife. This is a thing I observed over time and my doubts were confirmed by June when she narrated their love affair to me sometimes back. June at one time was financially incapacitated and had to turn to Christopher for help. Her position forced her to move in with Christopher and live together as couples without legally cementing their alliance. She argued that Christopher was not for the idea of marriage, but he wanted them to continue dating. They lived together for a couple of months and Christopher proposed to her. As we speak now, they are a happily married couple with two beautiful children. June and Christopher admit that they are grateful that the opportunity of living together presented itself. He admits that if the only choice had been dating or marriage, then they would have broken up. Living together gave them time for things to grow.
In another incident, in which Catherine recounted to me, it was a considerable setback for her after putting to a test the idea of living together. She says that she regrets the day she thought of that idea. Kate a secretary in a manufacturing firm met Michael the mechanic through a social site and immediately entered into a relationship. Catherine thought it wise to invite Michael over to live with her a year latter in order to cut down their expenses. In her mind, though Catherine did not feel any love at the beginning for Michael, she still hoped that he would marry her. True to her aspirations, love began to blossom and it went on for ten years. It came as a bang one day when Michael announced that he was leaving. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, Michael was engaged to Catherine’s best friend who had just retired with a huge income. Catherine felt like crying as she told of her agony. She admits that it took four years for her to come over it. For the four years, betrayal by Michael greeted her every day she woke up. Catherine curses living together and claims that it had ruined their relationship.
I was moved by June’s and Christopher’s story, and Catherine and Michaels’ story. These stories made me prod further and compare the idea of living together vis a vis that of marriage. This essay seeks to look at the two subjects in depth; however, my main focus will be on living together as opposed to marriage which I find it more commonly practiced. Moreover, living together carries along with it a number of benefits which appeal many people to turn to it. Living together also acts as a platform for many couples to get to know each other well before making any decisions about marrying. Living together, though not in all cases, also culminates into marriage.
In the past, a couple would never even fathom the idea of living together without first getting married. In my observation, the contrary has taken place; more and more couples opt for the idea of having trial marriages by living together before walking down the isle if ever.
This choice is informed by a number of issues, which if one chooses marriage, will be detrimental to him or her. Financial and social issues are at the core of informing this decision, and explain the drastic change of heart by many people. Many people, especially the young couples, ignore their elders’ advices and give an approach to the subject of marriage which they perceive is appropriate according to their lifestyles. Financial part of marriage, which is more common, does not in the first place as a wise alternative to living together. Consider, for instance, marriage to a man or a woman who has an enormous amount of debts. In this case, these debts will be translated to the other partner. Marriage also provides that both partners income are taken into account when applying for loans, grants, state sponsored help like energy and food assistance. These are just but a few shortcomings that drive most people not to marry.
In other instances, couples opt to living together as opposed to marriage because of the cost and the hectic process of divorce. The financial implications of divorce, the time consumed in the process, and the paperwork involved in trying to break up a marriage makes one shun the idea of marrying.
Pagan marriages where couples stand in front of their friends and their god to pledge the love and devotion for each other is also common in the society as opposed to legal marriages. In these arrangements, a couple pilots living together for a year and if everything works out, it renews their commitments once again. On the other hand, if the arrangement does not work, they call quits the relationship and whatever material possessions they came into it without any foul or harm. This tradition has been in practice for a long period of time than the traditional, legal, marriages where once you tie the knot, your debts and half of everything you own belongs to the other person.
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While it may seem modern and hip not to care about these things, they are all extremely important. No one ever knows what kind of situation they will find themselves in even within hours after making a commitment through a legal marriage. On the other hand, it is very true that you never certainly know someone until you live with them. People have all sorts of pet peeves and nasty habits and quirks and baggage they bring with them into a relationship (Goldstein 509). Some of those things can eventually be tolerated and some can not. Most people put their best foot forward in the early stages and then begin to relax.
The law of nature asserts that nothing is to be trashed before being given a chance to defend itself. In this case, in as much as I am for the idea of living together, those who choose to marry also have tangible reasons that inform their decisions. In this section, therefore, I will highlight some of these reasons. It should be, however, noted that, before embarking on this paper, I had made thorough research on the two subjects under discussion. The conclusion I arrived at has living together still dominant over marriage.
Most people take relationships for a test run by living together before getting married. This may seem a brilliant idea. However, preparing to live together with someone as if you are married without legal protection can turn out to be more complex than one thinks (Cohan 185). Both sides, those who are for marriage and those who are pro living together before marriage, has argued strongly in support of their stands. It is true that a couple ready to make a commitment to live together and mature enough to survive the challenges of cohabitation should also be ready and willing to be able to make a step and legalize their relationship in marriage. This boils down, not to morality or tradition but to a matter of legal rights. If at all a couple has respect, care, and trust for each other, then they ought to consider seriously what they are risking by not getting married. Take for instance, if something happens to one of the partners there is no protection for the other or the resulting children. If the other partner also happens to be seriously injured, the other will not be in a position to make any medical decision. Furthermore, any property that is not owned or held jointly will be hardly accessible. In instances of death, social security benefit will not be available to help with things like rent or housing even if the house was registered under both names. Similarly, for children to inherit anything, paternity of the children will have to be proven in a court of law. The surviving partner will have no rights in handling the body of the dead and the burial.
Furthermore, religious obligations also may drum up support for marriage. It might argue that living together gives a leeway for sex, which biblically is wrong before marriage. The Ten Commandments forbid sex before marriage and, therefore, this is a sin before the eyes of the lord. Though the issue may evoke some heated debate, allow me to stop this biblical arguments, nonetheless, for those who are pro marriage, it makes little sense to continue living together without marriage. Is it to save on expenses such as rent or is it an easy solution because one does not want to live alone?
Living together in all ways does not guarantee any commitment from the either partner. Commitment in marriage in this case is an agreement that one will take care of another person’s life until death parts them (Demaris 180). This means the partners will stick together through thick and thin regardless of the challenges they meet in life. The commitment of living together is not at all like that. However, it is simply a day to day agreement shaped by each partner behaving and keeping the other happy, this way, they will stick around.
Many questions run through everyone's minds when we think of living together, for example, what if a break up occurs, what is the partner going to get? What if the relationship falls apart halfway across a relationship, is your partner going to help you relocate? What of any property that you own, how is it going to be shared? What about the custody of the children? In a nutshell, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to such issues. More often than not, those who live together are more prone to breakups than those who are legally married. This, therefore, calls for a keen consideration when living together without a legal, binding marriage.
In addition, marriage presents with it more meaning to fight and willingness to work, for example, the couple can get property together, and have children who are not split within parents. Commitment in, this case, minimizes the probability of each partner to cheat. A marriage also acts as a model for the children, since they look upon an ideal example of mother and father.
In the several reports, I have read, the probability of divorcing after living together are high, much higher than that of couples who have not lived together prior to marriage (Rhodes 235). If living together was to be used as a test for compatibility in marriage, then statistic should reflect the opposite results. Couples living together should have stronger marriages, but instead we witness the opposite. To understand further why this is the case, one should consider why the couples who live together more often than not end up not marrying? Couples who have not lived together before marriage have not experienced the terms of living together, therefore, they enter into a relationship with a clear mind assuming that they are in it for life and all their habits reflect that commitment. They will go, into an extra mile, to see to it that the marriage works never allowing its failure.
Moreover, when one is married, there will be more things going on in a person’s life. Marriage is worth compared to living together because, in the latter, there is no permanency. In other words, there is nothing that holds a boyfriend and a girlfriend together. Living together is like one hopping to a public service vehicle, whereby one can alight where and when she or he prefers.
Most of the people who opt for the idea of living together before marriage have poor communication skills with each other. Living together does not present a good avenue for most couples to talk about personal problems or concerns that may be having. They may feel that their problems are personal, and the other partner does not have to hear about them or that it is “none of their business.” Married people communicate better, bearing in mind that your partner’s problems affect you in one way or another. Living together, as we have seen, carries with it some communication problems which might translate into marriage. It is not all cases that will end up like June and Christopher’s relationship. One will continue to act in much the same way as before, therefore, making your relationship more vulnerable to more problems and divorce if they get married at some point after cohabitation. Living together also allows a person to take advantage of the other by manipulating and using them in a certain way that is beneficial to them, for example, getting gifts and other valuable things from them. These are just but some of the arguments pro marriage crusaders have brought forward. Nevertheless, this cannot change my preference to living together.
I call upon those who seem to criticize the concept of living together before they experience it to stop because they are working on an assumption regarding that sanctity. Commitment gives a new definition and meaning to a relationship. Unlike marriage which might be rocked by numerous divorces, living together gives one a chance to know the other partner.
Having looked at and put into consideration all these factors, my opinion still remains that of living together. Personally, I am not married, but when the time to make a decision between living together or getting married comes, I will opt for the first one. This is because living together unlike marriage is a flexible arrangement that does not tie me in one place. It also gives me a chance to choose wisely in that I would not be forced to marry a person only to realize latter that he is not of my choice. I believe living together, despite being not biblical, has considerable benefits as compared to marriage.
In conclusion, I have always trivialized marriage versus living together thinking that the subject is given much hyped attention. It was until recently that I met with June and Christopher and came across Catherine and Michaels’ story. These touching narrations made me critically reflect and analyze the issue. The desire to research and write this paper concerning marriage versus living together was hatched by the two incidences. In this paper where I gave living together a preference to marriage, I have discussed a range of issues regarding the subject. This ranges from an overview of marriage versus living together, the weighty issues that marriage presents, and also some benefits of living together. In comparison, living together seems to me to be appropriate to living marriage.
To draw the curtains, marriage has a positive effect on those people who have not lived together. This is because they are aware that they will spend the rest of their lives together; therefore, they strive to create a lifestyle that is compatible from the first day. On the other hand, marriage has a negative effect on those used to the habit of cohabitation. They accord commitment to marriage little priority. Deep within, they feel that they had already passed the test, and further accommodation is of no essence. The idea that their spouse will not leave since they are married even makes it worse. Choose marriage for a better and satisfying life.
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