Pros & Cons of Cohabitation

Updated on September 1, 2019
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Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a Master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.

Is cohabitation right for you?
Is cohabitation right for you?

Cohabitation is a sexual relationship between two people prior to marriage. It is an agreement between two individuals who live together like wedded individuals, but without performing any matrimonial ceremony. Cohabitation may be heterosexual or between same genders. Those people who share space or a room are not considered cohabitants. Just those persons, who have taken a vow, either verbally or through mutual understanding to live together and gratify each other’s passionate and sexual yearnings, might be recognized cohabiters. On the other hand, marriage is a legitimate, religious, and written agreement between a man and a woman to live together for the rest of their life. Cohabitation and marriage are having their own pros and cons. In the modern world, Western countries are at the top of the list in cohabitation. Some people consider cohabitation superior to marriage, while some individuals hold marriage in extraordinary regard and deem it better than cohabitation. Which is better? Let’s play the devil’s advocate!

Pros of Cohabitation

Cohabitation has transformed into a questionable subject nowadays. There are a lot of people who consider cohabitation as their favourite alternative to marriage, while those individuals who are religious consider cohabitation to be a sinful act, which may provoke the wrath of God. Nowadays, the majority of individuals in Western countries favour cohabitation instead of marriage. People who prefer cohabitation to marriage have a firm conviction that cohabitation empowers them to know whether they are fit for each other sexually, emotionally and economically. Likewise, they surmise that cohabitation is an easy and shoddy approach to enjoy your life with your life partner without performing any matrimonial ceremonies. They think that marriage costs a lot of money, while cohabitation costs you nothing. They believe in this dictum, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

Positives of Cohabitation

  • Cohabiters share their liabilities and enjoy their life the way they want. It is an economical means of living together without conjugal commitment, which typically includes a great deal of expenditure on various things. It is the best alternative to marriage for people who cannot afford the expenses of marriage. They can revel in their life like a wedded couple. Unlike marriage, Cohabitation is not entangled or wound in legitimate religious laws, wherein it is challenging for a lady to get separated from her life partner easily. On the other hand, cohabitation is a mutual understanding between two people. They can easily break their commitment at whatever time they need. They are not lawfully bound to live together until the end of time. They don't have to visit courts to get separated legally.
  • Another advantage of cohabitation is that you can know your partner very closely. You can frame your opinion about his demeanor, conduct and character. That is why; cohabitation is rising these days in the Western countries. Cohabitation is a sort of test before marriage. Statistics show that the divorce rate in the USA has astoundingly increased. While cohabitation has gained popularity, when compared to marriage, Thomson & Colella demonstrated in their book, 'Cohabitation and Marital Stability', that cohabitation increased from 11% to 44% during the years 1965-74 and 1980-84. According to a survey, approximately 60% of adults agreed that cohabitation is the best way to understand each other before marriage.

A husband and wife ought to continue united so long as they love each other. Any law which should bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their affection would be a most intolerable tyranny, and the most unworthy of toleration.

— Percy Bysshe Shelley
Cohabitation may lead to a breakup.
Cohabitation may lead to a breakup. | Source

Cons of Cohabitation

In spite of the fact that there are many advantages of cohabitation, it’s not as reliable and stable as marriage. It is additionally loaded with various complications. There are various flaws in cohabitation, which may result in severe consequences for both individuals. Those who are of the view that they cohabit so that they may understand each other, are laboring under a delusion. It has been observed that most of the cohabiters don’t get married at all. Their relationship may result in separation, as there is no legal and religious commitment. Those who are against cohabitation believe in this dictum 'Easy come, easy go'. Cohabitation comes to a dead end due to the lack of a written and legal commitment.

Flaws in Cohabitation

  • Cohabitation is not a permanent relationship. It is a short-lived and short-term relationship. Marriage is a long-lasting and durable relationship due to the couples' strong commitment. It has been observed that most of cohabitations last for almost five or six years. Cohabiters are not attached to each other for a long time. The reason is that, during the course of time, they get fed up with each other and consequently get separated.
  • Uncertainty is another demerit of cohabitation. Couples living together without a marriage commitment can’t enjoy their life emotionally and sexually, as they are not sure about their future. They don’t know as to whether they should live together or not. Marriage shows you your destination and ultimate goal, while cohabitation may lead you astray.
  • Cohabiters cannot have sex like married people. Studies show that married people have better sex than cohabiters. The reason is that an individual who is living with his life partner may also have sex with another person, which may prompt serious outcomes. Cohabiters may suffer from various diseases. Married people are attached to each other and they know the sanctity and value of marriage. That is the reason, they never think of engaging in sexual relations outside their matrimonial relationship. Married people are more loyal to each other when compared to cohabiters. Cohabiters are free to engage in sexual intercourse with someone else.

Though separation is very easy in cohabitation, it may also result in many complications, when it comes to the partition of financial assets. On the other hand, there is a proper way of getting divorced. There are various complications associated with cohabitation.

By all means, marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.

— Socrates

Advantages of Marriage vs. Cohabitation

  • Married people are more satisfied and happier than cohabiters. They delight in their life with extraordinary joy and satisfaction, while cohabiters suffer from confusion. They are not aware of their destination. Marriage is better for family members and children. Married people are more stable and financially better than cohabiters. Married people take care of each and every penny they earn. They use money shrewdly and precisely, as they need to take care of their kids.
  • Family formation is the most significant feature of marriage. What we call family can't be the result of cohabitation. Marriage is mandatory for raising a family. Marriage is a beautiful natural phenomenon.

Which one is the best way of living together in this modern world?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Muhammad Rafiq


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    • profile image


      16 months ago

      overall I thought the article had some interesting points and arguments for both sides but by the end it got a bit muddled and pretty condescending towards the idea of cohabitation a lot of the things said at the end didn't quite make sense and while I personally am in favor of marriage over cohabiting you can't say thing like ''married people take care of each and every penny they earn and use their money shrewdly and precisely'' because that's not exactly true in all situations or sadly even in most plus it didn't really make sense to throw children into the equation right at the end when they weren't mentioned before then but up until the end I thought it did pretty well with making realistic and logical points

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      this is a shallow religious centric analysis. Does make any sense in the, thank god, increasingly secular worl

    • profile image

      Old fashioned George 

      20 months ago

      After being married over 25 years and witnessing America's divorce rate compared to those who experiment with cohabitation the proof is in the results. In my honest opinion marriage is a commitment filled with joy and rewarding lifetime challenges. Cohabitation is an trial which, as the numbers prove, a train wreck looking for a place to happen.

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      3 years ago

      This is not completely true. Has the author heard of serial marrying? That is what happens when a person marries more than once. Marriage is supposed to be forever with the same person. It is more of an expectation of society that people marry. It doesn't make them more mature, responsible, or more likely to succeed. What it does do is make some lawyer a lot of money when people divorce. It sells more homes, insurance policies, and makes people more involved with their communities at a younger age, and really you can do all of that with cohabitation but it complicates things a bit if you don't do it right. Cohabitation is really a safeguard for your retirement because unlike marriage, the co-habitator won't automatically get a portion of it should the marriage not succeed.

    • profile image

      Sheila R. 

      4 years ago

      This article is so biased, I think u should change the title because you are just telling us how great is to get married and to avoid cohabiting at any cost. Dissapointing

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Lucky for your comments. I think cohabitation does not last for long. What will you do if you get old? Will you resort to cohabitation in your old age? I think marriage is the only bond that keeps couples together, not cohabitation.

    • profile image

      Lucky Schwartz 

      4 years ago

      Not everyone is bound by religion. There are couples who choose to live together as part of a plan for their future. They want to save for a ring and plan for a wedding and so living together is a better option for them. I think that it's a personal choice and as long as the couple is able to communicate comfortably between each other and be honest about expectations...people should make the choice that's right for them.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments, Devils Advocate!

    • profile image

      devil's advocate 

      5 years ago

      If this is an article explaining the pros and cons, this may sound a bit more biased in my opinion. As I do prefer marriage over cohabitation, I may disagree with the last statement. Laws of nature is to reproduce, not stay together. I do prefer being together but I can see nature being without. We can see this act in other animals. They reproduce and find another mate.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks FlourishAnyway for your comments! I agree with you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      I have already chosen my path, marriage, but don't have an opinion regarding what others do. The divorce rate is very high, and living together prior to marriage doesn't reduce it, however people's priorities may be economic survival and other considerations.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      6 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks billybuc for your comments! That's what I want to convey to my readers.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is an interesting topic for today's world. In many ways I am a traditionalist and believe man and woman should be married before living together; still, I don't have that many negative feelings about long as the couple enters into it with commitment.


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