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My Aunt June and her husband Christopher started to date in their early twenties. They were lovebirds who could let nothing come in between their new found love as my Aunt recounted to me. Christopher, however, was not an emotional person, and he seemed to have little affection for his wife. This is a thing I observed over time and my doubts were confirmed by June when she narrated their love affair to me sometimes back. June at one time was financially incapacitated and had to turn to Christopher for help. Her position forced her to move in with Christopher and live together as couples without legally cementing their alliance. She argued that Christopher was not for the idea of marriage, but he wanted them to continue dating. They lived together for a couple of months and Christopher proposed to her. As we speak now, they are a happily married couple with two beautiful children. June and Christopher admit that they are grateful that the opportunity of living together presented itself. He admits that if the only choice had been dating or marriage, then they would have broken up. Living together gave them time for things to grow.
In another incident, in which Catherine recounted to me, it was a considerable setback for her after putting to a test the idea of living together. She says that she regrets the day she thought of that idea. Kate a secretary in a manufacturing firm met Michael the mechanic through a social site and immediately entered into a relationship. Catherine thought it wise to invite Michael over to live with her a year latter in order to cut down their expenses. In her mind, though Catherine did not feel any love at the beginning for Michael, she still hoped that he would marry her. True to her aspirations, love began to blossom and it went on for ten years. It came as a bang one day when Michael announced that he was leaving. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, Michael was engaged to Catherine’s best friend who had just retired with a huge income. Catherine felt crying as she told of her agony. She admits that it took four years for her to come over it. For the four years, betrayal by Michael greeted her every day she woke up. Catherine curses living together and claims that it had ruined their relationship.
I was moved by June’s and Christopher’s story, and Catherine and Michaels’ story. These stories made me prod further and compare the idea of marriage vis a vis that of living together. This essay seeks to look at the two subjects in depth; however, my main focus will be on marriage as opposed to living together which I find it more commonly practiced. Moreover, marriage carries along with it a numberof benefits which appeal many people to turn to it. Living together, on the other hand, also acts as a platform for many couples to get to know each other well before making any decisions about marrying. Living together, though not in all cases, also culminates into marriage.
Most people take relationships for a test run by living together before getting married. This may seem a brilliant idea. However, preparing to live together with someone as if you are married without legal protection can turn out to be more complex than one thinks (Cohan 185). Both sides, those who are for marriage and those who are pro living together before marriage, has argued strongly in support of their stands. It is true that a couple ready to make a commitment to live together and mature enough to survive the challenges of cohabitation should also be ready and willing to be able to make a step and legalize their relationship in marriage. This boils down, not to morality or tradition but to a matter of legal rights. If at all a couple has respect, care, and trust for each other, then they ought to consider seriously what they are risking by not getting married. Take for instance, if something happens to one of the partners there is no protection for the other or the resulting children. If the other partner also happens to be seriously injured, the other will not be in a position to make any medical decision. Furthermore, any property that are not owned or held jointly will be hardly accessible. In instances of death, social security benefit will not be available to help with things like rent or housing even if the house was registered under both names. Similarly, for children to inherit anything, paternity of the children will have to be proven in a court of law. The surviving partner will have no rights in handling the body of the dead and the burial.
Furthermore, my religious obligations also may drag me to drum up support for marriage. The reason I do not believe in living together before marriage is that sex is inevitable. In the bible, the Ten Commandments forbid sex before marriage and, therefore, this is a sin before the eyes of the lord. Though the issue may evoke some heated debate, allow me to stop this biblical arguments, nonetheless it makes little sense continue living together without marriage. Is it to save on expenses such as rent or is it an easy solution because one does not want to live alone?
Living together in all ways does not guarantee any commitment from the either partner. Commitment in marriage in this case is an agreement that one will take care of another person’s life until death parts them (Demaris 180). This means the parttners will stick together through thick and thin regardless of the challenges they meet in life. The commitment of living together is not at all like that. However, it is simply a day to day agreement shaped by each partner behaving and keeping the other happy, this way, they will stick around.
Many questions run through everyone's minds when we think of living together, for example, what if a break up occurs, what is the partner going to get? What if the relationship falls apart halfway across a relationship, is your partner going to help you relocate? What of any property that you own, how is it going to be shared? What about the custody of the children? In a nutshell, there are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to such issues. More often than not, those who live together are more prone to breakups than those who are legally married. This, therefore, calls for a keen consideration when living together without a legal, binding marriage.
In addition, marriage presents with it more meaning to fight and willingness to work, for example, the couple can get property together, and have children who are not split within parents. Commitment in, this case, minimizes the probability of each partner to cheat. A marriage also acts as a model for the children, since they look upon an ideal example of mother and father.
In the several reports, I have read, the probability of divorcing after living together are high, much higher than that of couples who have not lived together prior to marriage (Rhodes 235). If living together was to be used as a test for compatibility in marriage, then statistic should reflect the opposite results. Couples living together should have stronger marriages, but instead we witness the opposite. To understand further why this is the case, one should consider why the couples who live together more often than not end up not marrying? Couples who have not lived together before marriage have not experienced the terms of living together, and in my opinion, they enter into a relationship with a clear mind assuming that they are in it for life and all their habits reflect that commitment. They will go, into an extra mile, to see to it that the marriage works never allowing its failure.
Moreover, when one is married, there will be more things going on in a person’s life. Marriage is worth compared to living together because, in the latter, there is no permanency. In other words, there is nothing that holds a boyfriend and a girlfriend together. Living together is like one hopping to a public service vehicle, whereby one can alight where and when she or he prefers.
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