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Why do some couples choose to live together without getting married?

American actor and comedian, Eddie Cantor, once quipped that, “A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers.” Such a cynical view of the institution of marriage is not new; however, with increasing regularity, this construct seems to be pervading the established norms within the younger generations, and has resulted in an increase in the existence of cohabitating, unmarried couples. One can make reasonably sound assumptions about many of the primary justifications cited by couples for cohabitation in lieu of marriage. It is certainly not the case that the institution of marriage is doomed for extinction in the near future, but the phenomenon is worth noting.

In a society, in which the perceived melancholy associated with the banality of marriage has served to subvert the traditional notions of the institution, it is logical that young couples would increasingly choose not to marry. Marriage is simply viewed by many as an antiquated system that only serves to impede each individual’s ability to flourish personally, professionally, or socially. Couples have increasingly determined that they can continue to pursue their individual goals and aspirations, while enjoying the companionship and intimacy from a committed, romantic partner.

In addition, particularly among generational cohorts born after the 1980s, the traditional, conservative views of pre-marital sex, cohabitation, and the need for legal commitment have relaxed within a culture and society where relationships are more fluid and superficial. People can have relationships via various social media sites and other virtual spaces, which fulfill many basic desires and needs. The natural cravings for companionship, love, and intimacy can be satiated outside the legal marital construct; however, it is still common for unmarried couples to engage in behaviors and activities common among married couples, including home purchases, vacations, and even having children. These activities are no longer viewed as taboo, and in fact, within the popular culture, have become the accepted norm.

The perceived restrictiveness of marriage and the diminished negative perceptions of activities traditionally reserved for married couples within the popular culture are two possible reasons for couples increasingly choosing not to get married.