What is the Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage

The main difference between cohabitation and marriage is that cohabitation is living together, and having a sexual relationship without being married, while marriage is a legally and socially sanctioned union between two people, usually a man and woman.

In the modern world, many people are choosing to live together as a family unit, without the sanction of marriage. Although many couples choose the option of living together or cohabitation instead of marriage, cohabitation is not the same as marriage. Cohabitants have fewer legal rights than spouses, and in some societies, cohabitation is a taboo. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cohabitation 
    – Definition, Characteristics, Legal Rights
2. What is Marriage
      – Definition, Characteristics
3. What is the Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cohabitation, MarriageDifference Between Cohabitation and Marriage - Comparison Summary

What is Cohabitation

Cohabitation is a state where two people are not married but live together. They are usually engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship, in the long term. We also call cohabitation as living together. Living together is becoming increasingly common in the western world, with modern social views regarding religion, gender roles and marriage. In western societies, living together is often a natural step in dating. Many western couples also choose to live together before marriage. 

There are many reasons for living together or cohabitation. Couples may live together in order to save money due to the convenience of living together or the need to find housing. Another reason is the ability to spend time together and testing out their relationship before marriage.

However, there are also many oppositions against cohabitation in the modern world. Most religions frown upon non-marital unions and claim that living together is a sin. Moreover, more traditional societies find cohabitation as a taboo practice. 

Another issue with cohabitation is its lack of legality. Cohabitants or unmarried partners who live together, even for many years, are not entitled to legal rights enjoyed by married couples. A cohabitation agreement can be a solution to this problem. It is a legal document that helps couples to plan how to manage their money during the relationship, and what will happen in case of separation.

What is Marriage

Marriage is a legally or formally sanctioned union between two people. Traditionally, marriage has been viewed as a bond that unifies two people and lasts until death, but in modern society, marriage also ends in divorce or separation.

Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage

Most marriages in the modern world are monogamous, i.e., it only involves two persons, typically a man and a woman. Some countries have also legally accepted same-sex marriages. Polygamous marriages are marriages that involve more than two partners: polygyny involves men having multiple wives whereas polyandry involves women having multiple husbands. However, in most developed countries of the world, bigamy and polygamy are illegal practices.

Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage

Definition

Cohabitation is living together and having a sexual relationship without being married, while marriage is a legally and socially sanctioned union between two people, usually a man and woman.

Acceptance

Marriage is a legally and socially accepted practice in society, whereas cohabitation is frowned upon in many traditional societies.

Ending the Union

When two cohabitants want to end their relationship, they can just walk away; however, the end of marriage involves divorce, a legal proceeding. 

Legal Rights

In a marriage, a spouse has legal rights as marriage is a legal union; however, in cohabitation, the partners have no legal rights.

Inheritance

When a person dies, his or her spouse automatically receives the inheritance, but this is not the case in cohabitation. Cohabitants need a written testament to inherit.

Conclusion

Cohabitation is a state where two people live together without the sanction of marriage; in contrast, marriage is a legally or formally sanctioned union between two people. The main difference between cohabitation and marriage is their legality and social acceptance.

Reference:

1.“Cohabitation.” Rocket Lawyer, Available here.
2. “Cohabitation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Jan. 2020, Available here.
3. “Marriage.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Cohabitation Approval General Social Survey 1994-2012 v2” By Callinus – Libreoffice Chart (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “4507708” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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