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Cohabitation Is the New Marriage

Living in sin used to be social suicide, but couples are now afforded the space to conduct their private business privately.

The average American wedding runs a couple $26,542. That’s probably one reason why cohabitation—shared living, no custom cake topper necessary—jumped 13 percent between 2009 and 2011. Today, 7.5 million unmarried, opposite-sex American couples live under the same roof.


Whether your relationship was authorized by God, the state, or your sorry finances, it’s never easy to know whether, when, and how to tie it on or break it off. Move in too fast, and the weight of your shared couches can make an amicable breakup seem emotionally and physically impossible. Stay too long, and you could be left with only an ill-considered trial-baby pet, a living emblem of the miscast projections of your future relationship. Five years out, 50 percent of cohabitants have gotten hitched, and 40 percent have broken it off. The remaining 10 percent are still unmarried together, forging the shared life they want without the sea of rented cummerbunds and wrinkled satin.

Living in sin used to be social suicide, but couples are now afforded the space to conduct their private business privately, shielded from the long arm of the law and the prying eyes of former wedding guests. Only about 7 percent of adults capitalize on the idea. Outside of divorce’s legal trappings, broken hearts can chart their own forked roads, as couples are forced to separate their belongings based on dispassionate spreadsheets of monetary value or more feeling algorithms that chart each newly single person’s emotional needs. (Mercifully, there are no gifted gravy boats to haul to the curb.) Meanwhile, about a third of American adults live alone, shirking shared vows and mortgages entirely.

Cohabitation is the new marriage, which means it’s the next big relationship institution to be resisted by the faction of Americans who choose to live life alone.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user joebone.

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