together before marriage
Ashlee, a 26-year old in San Mateo,
California, is a financial analyst. She has been dating Arnold for three years now and they have a monogamous,
relationship, but Ashlee is not ready to
get married yet to him. "While I could not imagine being with anyone else, but I am not sure I want to marry Arnold in the traditional sense. We
manage our finances
together, own our home together, and our lives are in all respects linked, but I do not see the need for us going through the
formalities of marriage. My parents are
divorced and so are many of my family members and friends. Am I doing something wrong? Do you have any tips on how to make our relationship trouble-free if we decide to spend our lives this way?" Ashlee asks.
Ashlee is not alone. According to a report published by the National Marriage Project, more than half of all first marriages in America are preceded by living together.
A separate 2002 federal study has
found that 50 percent of women had lived with a man in a
sexual relationship outside of marriage, up from 41 percent of women in the 1995 survey.
Meanwhile, the marriage rate fell to 40 per 1,000 unmarried women in 2004 from 47 in 2000 and 77 in 1970. The ratio of married adults has fallen to its lowest since 1960, to about 55 percent from 69 percent.
Four out of ten
children are now born out of wedlock. At the same time a new trend called
"living apart together," or LAT is
emerging in which couples do not marry
but are committed to each other but
live in different physical locations. As Ashlee knows from first hand experience, 11% of adult women and 8% of men are divorced. In other words, our society is increasingly open to
couples living together, with our without marriage, and even
having children. 40% of children were born to unmarried couples living together, according to the data. While the
divorce rate has
dropped somewhat during last five years, the drop is attributed not to couples not divorcing - it is just that number of marriages is dropping and couples who do decide to
tie the knot do so after a lot of deliberation.
So what can you do live together happily without getting married?
Monogamy and commitment have nothing to do with actually getting married. Unmarried couples can have the level of commitment that would delight the Pope, but married people may
commit adultery left and right. So do not make life
difficult for your partner by unnecessarily raising the issue of commitment or monogamy and forcing him to marry you.
Being legally married does have some legal benefits (and disadvantages). Certain property and inheritance rights are available only to spouses. Some 9/11 victims learned that the hard way. It is better to consult with an attorney how you can work around that.
There is no reason for you not to do other things that married couples do - for instance,
celebrating wedding anniversaries
at exotic destinations. You can pick a day that is special to both of you (the day you met or kissed for the first time or
made love for the first time or whatever) and celebrate it each year.
In front of others, there is no need to make any excuses why you are not married. Instead of referring to your partner as just "boyfriend," you can use the term "partner."
on planning for marriage
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