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What are the causes and effects of cohabitation?

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The concept of cohabitation is when two people who have a romantic relationship choose to live together without the formality of marriage. It can also be the decision to live together before marriage. Cohabitation is not to be confused with two people who are roommates, rather two people romantically involved but not married.

There can be many reasons people choose cohabitation over a more traditional setup. Many people would like to see if they are actually compatible before the more permanent step of marriage. This would allow the couple to end their arrangement if they don't end up compatible without legal consequence.

Some couples choose cohabitation to save money. If they simply aren't ready to get married yet, saving money by having one residence before hand can be greatly cost saving.

Cohabitation is becoming more and more popular in the United States, although some say it leads to more couple splitting before marriage. This can be a positive or a negative effect based on who you may talk to!

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Cohabitation can happen for any number of reasons.  People may fear commitment or be unready to commit to one another.  They may dislike the idea of traditional marriage because they think it is patriarchal or because they have had a bad marriage in the past.  Or they may simply be cohabiting because they are in love and have planned to marry (perhaps even having a date set) but do not want to wait for that date to start living together.

There is some controversy over the effects of cohabitation.  Some researchers believe that it shows a lack of commitment and therefore leads to weaker marriages more likely to end in divorce.  Others feel that it makes for more stable marriages because it allows the partners to enter marriage with "their eyes open."  My own view is that the impact that it has on marriage depends largely on the reason for the cohabitation.  Couples who cohabit until the time is right to marry are probably strengthened while those who do so out of a fear of commitment are probably not.

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