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Getting Married or Living Together, Which is better?


Nothing feels better than a good marriage. Nothing feels worse than a bad one.-Mike Murdock

Marriage is an institution that is ordained of God. It is universal and found in almost every culture and society. It has survived throughout the centuries to the present day. It is the chosen option for 80% of those who are legally able to do so.

It has however been observed that so many marriages are failing; divorce and separation have affected many couples including the poor, the rich, the elite and among the religious. In view of the high incidence of divorce and separation involving the married, people are asking, “What do we get married for?”

If a couple who are not legally married or living together can get what married people get, why do we continue with this ancient tradition?

Friend, there is a strong case for legal marriages. In their book “To Couples” Dr. Julian Melgosa and Annette D. Melgosa, both marriage experts, have advanced the following arguments:

When two people become lawfully married, it shows a commitment on their part to work together to promote unity and foster its sustainability and stability.

No matter how rock-solid a marriage may be, there are likely to be difficulties that could degenerate into a crisis. The realization that their marriage is a lifelong commitment will enable them to confront their challenges with objectivity and maturity. This will help them settle issues amicably; entrenched positions will have to give way to compromises.

A committed married couple will only consider separation or divorce as a last resort in exceptional circumstances, whilst unmarried couples often see separation or divorce as an easy option to every setback or disappointment.

The social environment which usually encompasses relatives, reputable friends, work colleagues etc has a huge influence on legally married couples than on those living together. The social environment expects legally married couples to live up to expectation by working towards the stability of their marital union. They don’t place such expectations on freely associated couples.

In some cultures and societies, married couples are held in high esteem as opposed to those who are involved in cohabitation or living together. They are demonstrably seen as more responsible and mature than those living together as couples.

Many unmarried couples decide to marry after living together for many years and even after having children. This lends credence to the fact that such couples consider marriage to be a step forward, a state in which they attain a higher level of commitment and sustainability.

In the case of lawfully married couples, divorce can occur. The spouse and children if any can receive legal protection under the law so that their rights are not unduly violated. Couples who are in cohabitation are usually left in the limbo without legal protection when they eventually part ways or in the event of death. This is because verbal promises or agreements are of no consequence. Before the law, the couple has no legal tie and therefore has no right to the corresponding legal protection.

There are other issues with cohabitation that makes it unattractive.

Domestic violence towards women and children is more common in unmarried couples than couples who are legally married.

The woman always hopes that cohabitation will lead to marriage. The man’s expectations may be different and this can lead to frustrations.

There are higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety among women and children in such relationships.

Children are at greater risk of not being legally protected in the case of a breakdown.

Anyone deciding to opt for a relationship of cohabitation should give serious consideration to the following issues: the acquisition of property together, the last will and testament, the tutelage of under-age children, the protection of the most vulnerable partner in the case of separation or divorce etc.

Studies that have been conducted on married couples have established that they enjoy a healthier lifestyle, live longer, enjoy a higher level of sexual satisfaction, have more material possessions, and higher levels of better child-upbringing.

A good marriage is a powerful force against evil. A husband and wife who remain faithful to each other are showing reverence for God and will be blessed for it. They will teach their children to discern between good and evil.

In conclusion, marriage is far better than cohabitation. Uncommitted relationships can cause an enormous amount of insecurity in people. Higher rates of divorce have been associated with such relationships. Domestic violence frequently occurs in cohabiters than in legal marriages. It does not provide a conducive environment for child upbringing. Cohabiters experience more psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and stress than those in legal marriages. There is no legal protection in the case of the relationship breaking down.

Because of the commitment in legal marriages, they are more stable than those living together. The stability fostered enables the couple to live their lives more effectively. Children are better raised in such a social environment than in cohabitation. In the event of a marital breakup, the affected couples and children can receive legal protection. The awareness that marriage once entered into is for life should make it the preferred choice over cohabitation or living together. God’s plan is for us to marry and raise families. Stronger marriages lead to stronger families, stronger families lead to stronger communities and stronger communities create a better world.

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