There was a very long period of time in the history of human relationships when marriage was the preferred method of indicating a permanent coupling between a man and a woman. Since marriage had a huge historical significance in society, pairs who chose to live together or cohabit were shunned by society at large.
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However, the way society views the two partnerships has, like everything else in the world, evolved, and cohabitation has since gained a degree of acceptance in the modern world. The question posed before a couple who wish to share their lives in an intimately physical and emotional relationship has become, “Do we marry or live together?”
With that thought in mind, I present to you a series of comparisons and contrasts regarding the marriage or cohabitation relationship. I have to point out that although both relationships have the potential to become lifetime partnerships, each has its own drawbacks and benefits.
There is some sort of maturity expected of a married couple. It connotes a higher level of expectations between a man and a woman because marriage seems to be some sort of business contract wherein each party is expected to conduct themselves in a certain way.
Call me shallow, but when a relationship which is supposed to be based upon love, trust, and a deep understanding of each other is formalized by a piece of paper called a marriage contract, it becomes a business arrangement and puts undue pressure on both parties.
Whereas in a live-in relationship, the informal set up removes the pressure of undue and unrealistic expectations between the two parties involved. Such a set up allows them to instead enjoy each other’s company without having to think about any formal duties that each is expected to perform.
Marriage is only a state of mind, in my opinion. It is something the denotes what happens in the relationship between two people who are living together legally. That means in the eyes of the law of God if you are the religious type. Comparing it to a live-in couple’s relationship does not show any difference. Why? It all boils down to duties and responsibilities.
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In both scenarios, the couple act as a united party. Each with duties outlined in order to make the relationship work. However, in a married scenario, there is no out clause for if and when the union does not work out. One either gets stuck in what slowly becomes a loveless, angry marriage or ends up spending an insane amount of money trying to get the marriage annulled or divorced.
On the other hand, in a cohabiting relationship, if the partnership ceases to work, a mere discussion of the situation and an agreement to end the relationship will suffice. No pain, no hassle, but, just like marriage, still with the heartache that comes with the end of any relationship.
Actually, there is very little difference between marriage and live-in relationships. Both require a serious commitment from both parties to make the union work. But in a married set-up, each spouse, by default, has all the rights as provided and protected by law.
In the case of a cohabitation set-up, the parties will have to be involved in complicated legal document processing in order to ensure that their rights as partners are covered by law in the same way that married couples do.
If we look back on the history of man, dating back to the dawn of mankind, one can deduce that cohabitation has a long-standing history in relationships when compared to marriage. Marriage is simply a ceremony that was imagined and enacted by a man in order to signify the decision of a man and a woman to live together in a forever sense of the word.
Read the bible, The Book of Genesis, to be specific, and one will see that there was no formal marriage ceremony performed in order to unite Adam and Eve. Nowhere in the bible did it say that an intricate ceremony was performed when God gave Eve to Adam.
All he said was go forth and multiply. So it is quite possible that Adam and Eve were the first couples to cohabit in the history of mankind. They were each other’s helpers and partners in life. This is a description that most often clearly defines a cohabiting relationship.
In today’s modern world, a cohabitation relationship is celebrated the same way as a marriage. While marriage requires a hugely expensive religious or legal ceremony that takes place over a series of days, a cohabitation relationship merely requires the choosing of a residence and the throwing of a party or the performance of an indicative ceremony that acknowledges the desire of both parties to live together. Isn’t that all that a marriage ceremony boils down to? The significant intention to share a life together?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating a live-in relationship. Neither am I endorsing marriage as the only way for a couple to share their lives together. The choice is actually one that the couple has to make for themselves. While not all cohabitation relationships end up in marriage, not all marriages end up as a forever partnership either.
Therefore, in comparing and contrasting the two union types, I have come to discover that for all the perceived differences between the two, the relationships are actually cut from the same material, but in different styles.