Years of condemnation appear to be backfiring as many cohabitating couples reject the guilt-laden attempts to discourage their living arrangement. Instead, most cohabiters fear a failed marriage even more than the criticism, so opt to live together despite the odds.
Now the average age of a cohabiter has risen to 35. Over 60% of all couples who marry will cohabite first and rates of cohabitation will skyrocket since 75% of high school students believe living together is worthwhile and harmless. Cohabitation is much more diverse than once imagined and the following perspectives provide a small sampling of the many facets of living together outside of marriage.
1) Happily Un-Married: Living Together & Loving It!
Much like in Western Europe, many contemporary couples report high levels of satisfaction with their cohabitation arrangements. They're buying homes together, sharing investments, raising children from previous relationships and, purposely, having more children together.
They believe in long-term, monogamous and committed relationships but do not feel that marriage is necessary or even desired.
2) From Rebellion to Fear: Why Cohabitation Isn't What It Use to Be!
Our motives for cohabitation have been transformed. Baby boomers, who are now quick to condemn cohabitation, started shacking up to rebel against marriage and as part of the sexual revolution. Now, due to all the Boomers who shacked up in the 60s, got married in the 70s, divorced in the 80s, and who raised the first full generation of children from broken homes, cohabitation is occurring out of fear of failure and not as an act of rebellion.
3) Cohabitation: Here Today & Gone Tomorrow?
The "jury is still out" on the future of cohabitation. It could be a long-term trend or a short-lived cycle that ends in failure. One could assume that with the growth of cohabitation, marriage is an endangered institution. However, it's too early to say this move away from legally binding relationships is ongoing or that we're merely seeing the bottom of a cycle and that marriage is on the upswing.
Today's youth are experimenting with new forms of commitment and relationships, just like their Baby Boomer parents.
4) Stealth Cohabitation: Shacking Up While Moving Up the Corporate Ladder!
There's still a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality but it's not in the military – it's in corporate America. It's not about sexual orientation, it's about live-in relationships. It's true that the social stigma of cohabitation has been transformed from a time when it was shameful, to a time when Brad and Angelina have become the new American family role model. But the stigma in business is still strong, especially for women, and the bottom line is shacking up may hurt your chances of moving up.