Regardless of feelings on cohabitation and “living in sin” before marriage, it is worth noting that the family structure is already inevitably changing. No more are the days of the two-parent, two-child, one-dog nuclear family. Instead, people are getting married later, having children later, getting more education, or not getting married and having children at all. The concept of the nuclear family is nearly obsolete. There is no typical family structure today compared to that of 50 to 60 years ago. The family structure has evolved to the point that children are more a part of families that do not include two-parent homes as rehabilitation, cohabitation and divorce are on the rise. Families are smaller due to non-increasing wages, continued access to education and the delay of childrearing. In 2015, the share of children living in a two-parent home was at its lowest point in more than half a century, with nearly 70 percent of American households having that type of family arrangement.
For many couples, cohabitation is a growing option. In 2011, 7.5 million people in the United States practiced cohabitation, likely due to a decrease in the social stigma. Cohabitation is often referred to as a “trial run” for marriage, wherein the couple can get to know each other and see each other at their best and worst in a place where they are the most comfortable—in the privacy of their own home. Research has found that cohabitation has little effect on the success of marriage, but it may contribute to the increase in the delay that men and women engage in before they get married. I do not necessarily believe that cohabitation is a strong indicator of the success or failure or even the incidence of a marriage, nor do I think that cohabitation is a bad thing in general. It is something that I myself would do in order to see how living with another person is, at least in a romantic context, as it is something that I have never done before. If I am planning on spending the rest of my life with someone, I would like to see them in all their forms and that includes being in close quarters with them. I do not find it inappropriate that people live together before getting married. I think that it is one of the biggest and most intimate steps that a couple can take before deciding whether or not they will move forward in the relationship. Hopefully, a few bad habits like dirty dishes and strewn laundry are not enough to end a relationship, but it gives a couple time to work on the things that the other does not like so that they can eventually live together in peace. Finding out all of their bad habits, some of which might be inexcusable or a hard limit for some individuals, is the most inopportune when it happens after marriage, a legal and, for the most part, binding agreement.
The idea that cohabitation is inappropriate sounds like, to me, that it is rooted in religious dogma that warns against the dangers of premarital sex. Cohabitation, “living in sin,” or “shacking up,” is a novelty idea that should be looked at through the lens of how the world is today, much more liberal and accepting. Cohabitation is seen as being too tempting to the action of “sexual immorality,” but this is no longer the 1950s. Women and men are more sexually liberated, having casual sex, and doing so in a smart and safe manner. The only people that should not cohabitate are the ones that are against it and no one else.