Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Living together vs Marriage - Which is better?


·                     1the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife:
2a combination or mixture of elements:her music is a marriage of funk, jazz, and hip hop

As one of my “30 before 30” goals is to “Buy a house” and to do this with the BF this can often lead to a question being asked. (Mainly by the over 50’s).
“So, are you two getting married?”

Had I been talking to someone my own age (20-something) then I doubt the question would even be asked! Whether it’s an age thing, a cultural thing or just a personal thing there still seems to be 2 camps; those that believe in cohabiting and those that don’t.

Take the comment from one of the guests on a UK daytime TV show this morning when the Olympic flame torch runner proposed to his heavily pregnant girlfriend.. "They can't not be married yet, she's already pregnant?" Errr Hello? It's 2012!

Coming from a mixed race and fairly religious background my family have almost all got married before living with their partners. In almost every case this has resulted in divorce somewhere down the line. Both sets of Grandparents passed away still married to their first love and whilst I find this wildly romantic is it just that for their generation it wasn’t an option to separate?
verb (cohabitscohabitingcohabited)
[no object]
·                     1live together and have a sexual relationship without being married:an increasing number of couples are cohabiting E.g Mary is now cohabiting with Paul

Unlike me who has only lived away from home whilst at uni (living with 2 boys and a girl) many of my friends have lived with their partners and cohabited. Despite the relationships ending and them going their separate ways would anything have been different had they been married? Would they have felt obliged to make it work or felt bound to stay unhappy?

Before we think about the legal bit or the many, many statistics on the topic we should consider the emotional commitment. As the Oxford dictionary says, a marriage is a legal joining of two people but also a joining or coming together of two elements. A legal document can only go so far when someone is said to be your father or mother but it’s the emotional relationship that tends to be the strongest bond. Can this be applied to sexual relationships? If you love someone, you want to make a home with them and the feeling is mutual then does that need to be validated by a marriage certificate?

"Researchers found that all couples had a honeymoon period right after they got married or moved in together—they were happier and less depressed than those who stayed single. The study also found that couples who just lived together had bigger leaps in happiness and more self-esteem than they did when they were living alone. Married couples also were happier than before, but didn’t get the same big boost."  Read more: Pass This On To Your Pushy Mother - Cohabitation Happiness Study - Cosmopolitan 

The "try before you buy" theory suggests people may want a get out clause should there be trouble in paradise or is it just a way to ensure you make the most of the fun stage before settling down and getting serious?
For some, is a public declaration of love a true test of someone's feelings and a way to document that you want the same things? Coming from a traditional(ish) family I have seen how marriage can be both fabulous and destructive; sacred and irrelevant.

Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears are the queens of publicity stunt marriages with theirs lasting little more than a yoghurt would in the fridge but are the regular folk capable of the false gesture only to have to admit our mistake or change our minds?

In the Uk it’s recorded that there are approx. “ four million couples living together in England and Wales in cohabitation”

Considering this and the current Uk divorce rate which has been growing again since the recession, couples may wonder if more and more people are trying to secure their relationship by not getting hitched?

Love and Sex

It’s not a new idea that marriage changes a relationship and film and TV have dramatised and inflated the issues as seen in “Barefoot in the park”, “Love and Sex” and the light hearted but somewhat realistic ending in “Bride wars” where only one couple ties the knot and the other breaks up. Had that couple not been faced with an ultimatum of declaring their love in front of friends and family would they have continued in cohabiting bliss?

As we grow up must I give up on the idea that "one day my prince will come" and present me with a diamond as proof of their undying love? 

Research into this topic brings up more results about the legal reasons for and against marriage then any of the emotional ties. In Norway the rights for a cohabiting couple are very similar to their married neighbors but in the Uk it is not the case.

Many people think that, after living with their partner for a few years, they become 'common law husband and wife' with the same rights as married couples. This is not the case. In fact, couples who live together have hardly any of the same rights as married couples or civil partners. There is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’.

As the divorce rate increases again the danger is that should a couple part ways you could end up losing your home if your partner legally owns it outright; regardless of how long you have lived together. Whilst this is something to consider, should it ever be as important as whether that person is the one you want to spend forever with or has naive romanticism died a rather unromantic death?

Would you go with your heart, your head or your wallet? 


  1. aww I love perfect couples :)
    I would never pick a guy based on looks or wealth.
    I believe in true love!

  2. myself and my fiance lived together for 5 years before we got engaged in November last year. we even bought a house together! some people might think we're doing things backwards, but i think it's a great way to learn about each other and find out if you're actually able to live together in the long run!

    nice blog :)


  3. I hear you Bubble! I believe in true love too only there's not enough of us haha.

    Although I think the only perfect couple I can think of is my Grandparents; they cracked it I just wish they had told me their secret ;)


  4. Glad to hear that as the BF and I are almost signed on a house and we're not married or engaged. I think it has to be whatever works for you.

    I already know he's the one for me so that's good enough for now :)



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