Marriage is not the institution of society that it once was. This does not mean that getting married is a bad idea, it is merely that fewer couples seem to put the significance of marriage upon the pedestal and high honor that it once held. Marriage is a huge commitment for most and it can be incredibly terrifying for some, while for others it can be like a warm security blanket giving you comfort in trying times and joy at others. But the question then arises, can merely living together give you the same feelings that marriage does just without the official marriage license?
Why do people get married? This is becoming a more and more common question, however the answers are not always simple, and often change with the age of whomever is asked. Traditionally marriage was bond between two people pledging eternal love for one another before family and friends. But this may suggest that the marriage ceremony is largely a ritual and can be had by those who choose to simply live together as well. In fact, both heterosexual marriages and gay marriages both can make claim to these attributes of marriage. So what is it about marriage that is so important that both government and religious entities have such strong opinions on its fundamental value?
It also is worth mentioning living together gives a couple the ability to test out some longer term compatibility without the constraints put upon that couple through marriage. Living together or cohabitation can be very much like marriage, but without the benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples currently have, and gay couples are fighting for. Living together has very little to do with the ability to construct a family or have children, but can be seen as less stable, or immoral in the minds of the more traditional people in your life.
Marriage in today’s society does have its benefits, however they are for the most part more advantageous in legal and accounting scopes than in those more traditional and religious aspects. Traditional marriage is still a large part of the belief for many. The chances of needing a lawyer to end a relationship is significantly reduced when living together (although certain situations may require it), the main issues are usually emotional. Legal advantages are given to a married couple through which that couple in many instances is automatically given certain benefits, such as cheaper health care and various tax benefits for being part of a couple, not to mention the federal Family and medical Leave act. It’s important to note that couples only living together do not have these benefits.
To those who may think living together is no different for them than for those who say “I do”, some studies suggest that there may be psychological benefits to marriage as well. There is some stability in avoiding the pain and anguish of the divorce process and the additional benefit of marriage being a more socially acceptable arrangement to some. There also seems to be a great divide generationally speaking, as younger people tend to prefer cohabitation over marriage, perhaps as it may be more acceptable to those who are inundated with broken relationships constantly appearing in the media and television.
It basically still comes down to personal preference. With the exception of varying state laws, living together may give an individual an easier way out of a marriage, but is that that really a good thing? Being married in the eyes of the law may present a couple with added benefits, but is that a healthy foundation for a relationship? Those that have never been married may want the traditional happily ever after, and those that have gone through bad divorces or break-ups may want the easier get out of jail card that living together allows. So, unless you have an elderly Jewish mother threatening a heart attack if you live in sin, the choice is entirely yours!