A marriage is a legally binding agreement that grants each partner a wider range of rights and responsibilities. Ending this type of relationship requires a legal procedure. Cohabitation is the act of living together without a legally recognized union. This allows individuals to part ways with less difficulty than if they were married. However, both kinds of couples do live together and therefore spend most of their time together. Married people and cohabiting people are in serious relationships, they don’t generally decide to cohabit with someone they are just casually dating.
People who are married are extremely committed to one another but neither couple will be unsure of their relationship or in a relationship with someone they don’t know very well. Married or cohabiting couples don’t have to completely pool their resources; both kinds of couples do have a financial stake in the relationship. At the very least, both will pay half of the rent or mortgage on a house or apartment. This means that both people in both kinds of relationships have something tangible to lose should the relationship fail. Married and cohabiting people are in intimate relationships.
This essentially always includes some sexual intimacy; if there is no sexual intimacy in a married or cohabiting relationship, then it is not really a marriage or even a romantic relationship. While some people date without living together and not having sex, couples who live together are almost always in sexual relationships, whether they’re married or not. People commonly insist that a piece of paper, referring to the marriage license, is the only difference between marriage and cohabitation, this is far from being true. A marriage license is a document that drastically alters a relationship.
One major way that it does this is by preserving the relationship even if one or both partners walk away. Marriages do not simply dissolve because individuals do not like the way that things are going and wish to invest their energy elsewhere. Instead, a couple must go through a divorce and have a court terminate their relationship. When two people cohabit, they live according to an agreement that may be based on a number of factors, such as emotions or financial convenience, but generally there is no legal responsibility binding one to the other.
If the moment arises when the situation no longer seems suitable, both parties can instantly sever their ties. In most jurisdictions, there is not a special body of law regulating how cohabitants’ property should be divided or how the least financially fit partner should be cared for after the break up. With married partners, however, these are major considerations. Another major difference between marriage and cohabitation is liberty. When people marry, they take vows, which are legal and usually religiously sanctioned promises. A married person is not free to enter into intimate relations with other people.
In addition to the threat of divorce and the financial ramifications that it can have for the guilty party, it is also possible in many states for one spouse to sue another for adultery. When people cohabitate, relinquishing the liberty to intimately fraternize with others is a choice, and if a person act contrarily, it poses no legal threat. Marriage and cohabitation also differ with regards to the decision-making. Spouses belong to one another, and if there is a life or death decision to be made and one person is unable to do so, her partner will be called upon to act on her behalf.
When individuals are cohabiting, they do not generally gain the right or responsibility of making decisions for their partners, no matter how long they stay together. While many people choose to live together, others still prefer marriage. Research has shown that couples who marry generally feel more secure and are more committed to making their relationship work. People should never move in together for convenience. It should be a well thought decision that is preceded by plenty of discussion and planning.