Who wants marriage these days? Just live together and break up when you want. Why sign papers and carry the burden of all legality issues associated with it. Who cares about long term commitment anyway? Relationships are meant to last as long as love lasts. As emotions ebb and flow, so do people wallk in and out of relationships.
What a distrubing line of reasoning that is. Just yesterday my wife was sharing about a colleague who after 5 years of cohabitating just broke up and walked out of the relationship. The emotional fall out is going to last rest of the lives and generations beyond themselves. Our society seems to be so obsessed with ourselves and the present that our capacity to think holistically and long term gets severly impaired.
David Popenoe of Rutgers University has come out with a new report on Cohabitation, Marriage and Child Wellbeing in America. He calls ‘the living together’ phenomena as the strongest force altering family in modern times. Since 1970, when cohabitation was a deviant and illegal practice, this social trend has grown 10 times and now makes up nearly 10 percent of all couples!
Non-marital cohabitation has become a normal part of the life course in the eyes of more than half of young singles in the United States. In 2001a national survey of young adults between the ages of 20 and 29, 43 percent agreed that “you would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” As of 2002, over 50 percent of women ages 19 to 44 had cohabited for a portion of their lives, compared to 33 percent in 1987 and virtually none a hundred years ago. The yearly number of marriages per 1000 unmarried women age 15 and older has dropped from 76 in 1970 to 41 in 2005.
Social stigma toward cohabitation is waning. Attitude has changed to acceptance and being trendy. Reasoning like pragmatism, cost effectiveness, testrun, hooking up etc seems to dominate young adults as they view relationship. The societal approval of non-marital sex (before, outside of and without marriage), a fallout of sexual revolution of the 1960s, may be at the heart of this social development.
Moreover radical individualism of the Western world, promiscuity of the culture, delay in marriage, changing gender roles etc have contributed toward this trend. Legalistic society that the West has become with high cost of marriage and divorce may be partly blamed. Rise of divorce and singlehood are also other reasons for this social development.
More on this later.