Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Cohabitation – who wants marriage? June 14, 2008

Filed under: Youth — Sam George @ 1:08 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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.


2 Responses to “Cohabitation – who wants marriage?”

  1. ianromaine Says:

    I know from personal experience that nearly every marriage of my family’s older generations were not marriages built on shared interests, love for each other and common bonds. Instead, they were couples who got married in their teens because of society’s view on what was the ‘right’ thing to do and then spent their lives together — often miserably — too afraid to leave because of the deeply ingrained view that divorce/separation was somehow wrong when it would have clearly been the best option for everyone involved.

    The falling numbers of marriages per 1000 women you mention is, in my opinion, due to women (and men) no longer feeling subject to an overwhelming pressure to marry someone just because they happen to have slept together.

    It’s worth remembering the many, many miserable marriages that were pushed upon people for the entire lives when we hark back to the ‘good old days’ of almost-forced-marriage.

    Cohabiting doesn’t have to mean having a carefree attitude towards your relationship and it’s wrong to stereotype every cohabiting couple as two commitment-shy, selfish young fools who are only in it for themselves.

    Ian Romaine

  2. Sonny Says:

    I agree, increasing numbers of south asians doent want to walk into a marriage. The internet is providing information liberation which inturn is changing primary objectives of south asians. Arranged marriages are decreasingly popular for NRI, Desi and South asians. A new website is is aimed at thsis group whoa re cultural but dont want parents dictating their lives. promises to be an interesting alternative.

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