Cohabitation simply means living together. The term is normally applied to two people who are living together outside of marriage. According to a joint study by the Pew Research Center and "Time Magazine," four out of ten Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. Although various religious traditions frown upon cohabitation, many cohabitating couples find the arrangement to be more advantageous than marriage.
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Cohabitation is financially advantageous if the two people who are cohabitating would otherwise reside alone. Not only can cohabitating couples split rent, they can also split cable, Internet, telephone and other utility bills. People can also save money on gas since they will not be travelling back and forth between each other's residences. Cohabitation allows couples to save money on the monthly costs of living, and this may be helpful if the couple is saving for a wedding, honeymoon or a future mortgage. According to the Pew Research Poll, two thirds of persons that have cohabitated regarded the arrangement as a step towards marriage. If the couple does not intend to marry, they can avoid the costs of a big wedding ceremony by simply moving in together.
Some non-religious people choose to cohabitate because they do not regard the religious or legal ceremony of marriage to be that important. For these people, a union between two people is not stronger simply because a priest or state officiant formally acknowledges the union. If a couple regards marriage as a mere formality, then cohabitating can be a more desirable option.
Companionship and Compatibility
Cohabitation provides companionship. Cohabitating couples can enjoy each other's company when home from work in the evening or when just relaxing on the weekends. At the same time, cohabitation provides the opportunity to test compatibility before making the serious commitment of marriage. Residing together can really change the dynamic of a relationship and introduce new stresses and tensions. Some couples prefer to experience these adjustments before marriage.
Protesting the Institution of Marriage
Despite religious, cultural and legal biases against non-traditional unions, more and more Americans are accepting of unions between two men or two women. In fact, according to an April 2011 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 51 per cent of Americans think gays and lesbians should have the same legal rights as married men and women. Some heterosexual couples choose to protest the heterosexist bias of the institution of marriage by refusing to wed until all couples are permitted to wed. Others reject the institution of marriage altogether, believing that it privileges patriarchal values. For people with ethical objects to marriage or to legislation authorising only one type of marriage, cohabitation is an alternative.
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