Cohabitation Non-Traditional Form of Family Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The insecure partner finds the open communication through which a successful relationship grows to be intricate. In such a relationship, the powerful partner does not citizen the weaker partner.


Emancipation is a type of cohabitation that allows partners to break from their parental influences and values. Women who are brought up in very conventional religious traditions usually seek for sexual emancipation that is not allowed by their faith or parents, through cohabitation


This is a form of cohabitation where one person is the giver while the other person in a relationship is the taker. In this form of cohabitation, the woman offers domestic labor and loving care, but she does not ask for marriage. The woman gains domestic sex and labor without devotion


Testing is a form of cohabitation that entails partners testing for marriage through cohabitation. This form of cohabitation can be a true testing ground for marriage if the involved persons are comparatively mature and committed to attempting out their already mutually satisfying relationships in a situation that closely resembles marriage.

According to Aneshensel, an author, cohabitation calls for attention in the studies of marital status and mental health given the increasing number of persons who occupy this status and the demographic proof that persons who cohabit are spending prolonged periods of time in this status (236). Aneshensel, cites data from the National Survey of Families and Household which implies that close to 13% of people cohabit, with cohabitation rates much higher for young people, with close to 25% of people aged between 25-34 years cohabiting. Despite that older person are less likely to cohabit, their numbers are also in the rise (Aneshensel 236). Aneshensel points out that the reasons for cohabitation may vary for younger and older persons (236).

According to Suussman, most couples report that cohabitation is a test of future marital compatibility (313). Studies indicate that most people would not engage in marriage without first having lived with their potential mate. Cohabiting couples argue that the cohabitation arrangement is a principal preparation for marriage. Other studies indicate that cohabitation is a novel step within the process of mate selection, and a new stage of courtship, which in replacing dating, may offer a more practical foundation for mate selection (Suussman 313). Couples cohabit to test the compatibility of their marriage in the sense that they learn about each other's character and habits.

Young couples also believe that cohabiting acts as a test of marriage for people who are planning to get married. Increased intimacy among couples and less intricate dissolution like the one involved in divorce, economic benefits and time together among couples are major reasons why people prefer cohabitation as opposed to marriage (Suussman 313). On the other hand, old couples cohabit to prevent loss of financial benefits such as child maintenance, pension checks or welfare, anger and pain following divorce, loss of spouse through death or divorce and fear of losing another spouse.

Effects of Cohabitation

Maass, an author, asserts that most of the available statistics do not reveal much information concerning the reasons for the general instability of cohabiting unions (4). The reasons that challenge cohabiting union's stability are many, often the very reasons for deciding to cohabit hold significant built-in risks factors for instability (Maass 4). Most apparent reasons for failure of relationships include unrealistic expectations, clashing personality characteristics, immaturity, dishonesty, lack of financial resources, power imbalances and children form past relationships. A close analysis of the reasons for cohabiting may disclose that partners do not necessarily make the choice to live together for the same reasons. Breakups are as a result of lack of communication or from miscommunications amid partners (Maass 4). In some cases, partners may not have been forthcoming with the actual primary reasons for wishing to live together and there are cases where these reasons become reasons for divorce later on.

According to Lind, an author, as long as the legal effects of cohabitation legislation apparently differ from those of marriage, they form a true alternative to marriage for unmarried cohabiting couples (867). Cohabitation legislation gives more restrained legal effects than those of marriage. The limited legal effects in the future may be an attractive option for many couples to get married. Cohabiting couples are offered more limited regulations systems (Lind 867). Besides limited legal effects, cohabitation leads to increased drug abuse. Studies indicate that frequent drug use and unemployment are linked with living nontraditional family types such cohabitation or single-parent families (Coleman 67). Low drug use and stable employment are linked to increased rates of formation of traditional families. Other negative effects of cohabitation include increased risk of emotional, mental and physical abuse, unstable relationships not founded on the right basis and higher general rates of violence among cohabiters (Coleman 67). As a result, violent relationships common in cohabiting can eventually cause suicide, homicide, depression or death.

However, to avoid all the negative effects of cohabitation, couples should refrain from cohabitation. This is because couples living together hold the lowest level of premarital satisfaction compared to other family living arrangements. Married couples living together before marriage demonstrate poor communication skills when discussing their problems compared to married couples that did not cohabite before marriage. More importantly, cohabiting couples are less sexually devoted and trustworthy compared to couples that do not cohabitate, and this trend instigates domestic problems and other social and familiar problems (Coleman 67). The problem of cohabitation can also be solved through legal cohabitation agreement that unmarried, but cohabiting couples enter into. In this agreement, the couple agrees on disposition and acquisition of property upon separation, control of property, personal rights and obligation of each party.


For many people, marriage is no longer considered a prerequisite for living with a romantic partner. By the time people turn thirty, almost half of these people have cohabited at some point. As a result, cohabitation has become more prevalent in the modern society with more young people constantly engaging in this form non-traditional form of family. Cohabitation involves two people living together as husband and wife without any form of legal marriage. Different people enter into cohabitation for different reasons, among them trial marriage, couple compatibility, divorce, death of a partner, financial problems and avoiding parental values and religious influences. However, cohabitation holds negative effects to couple, their children and the society.

Work Cited

Aneshensel, Carol. Handbook of the sociology of mental health. London: Springer, 2006.

Bornstein, Marc. Life-span development: Infancy through adulthood. Texas: Cengage Learning, 2010.

Browne, Ken. Introducing sociology for AS level. Cambridge: Polity, Oct 6, 2006

Coleman, Marilyn. Handbook of contemporary families: Considering the past, contemplating the future. London: SAGE, 2004.

Farrer, Linden. Spotlights on contemporary family life:…

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