Have you ever lived with someone outside of marriage? In America, there has always been a stigma attached to children born out of wedlock, whereas in Europe, it has always been an accepted practice.
We seem to place so much value on the institution of marriage but we don’t look too closely at what happens to a couple between “I do” and “I don’t.”
Women used to think they were settled for life if they could get married and start a family, but with various versions of the no-fault divorce laws in this country, they can no longer count on the courts to give them that free lifetime pass.
Even child custody, which used to be the domain of women, has changed considerably. With so many men taking on the role of stay-at-home dads, and so many women in the workforce, judges are becoming more lenient toward men in the way they rule on custody cases.
It stands to reason, with the divorce rate so high and women having more disposable income than they used to, that cohabitation has become so popular. In the last century, couples who moved in together, usually planned to get married after trying it on for size to see if they were compatible. Nowadays, they are more likely to live together without the prospect of marriage.
There are so many reasons for this shift. For one thing, women have more to lose now than they ever did before. If a woman has a better paying job than her husband, she could end up paying alimony to him, as so many women have found when they divorced.
While most women still have a nesting instinct, they are more inclined to leave an unfaithful partner if she is cohabiting with him than if she is married to him.
Divorces are expensive and there is still more of a stigma attached to being a divorced woman than being a single woman, with or without children.
So, does cohabitation lead to marriage? In some cases, yes, but more and more, it’s just dating with an escape clause, or some type of marriage with an easier escape clause if it doesn’t work out.
Society is changing so we can’t be all that surprised that dating and marriage rules are part of these changes. It remains to be seen if these changes are better or worse for us.