Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A few weeks ago there was a thread about civil unions and marriage for homosexuals. In that thread I contended that civil unions were good not only for homosexuals but also for heterosexuals who thought the concept of marriage was antiquated. Several people who were cohabitating claimed they didn't need any sort of official recognition of their love for their partner. I was struck by the paradox of one group (homosexuals) screaming for official recognition of their love for their partner while another (men and women cohabitating) declared they didn't need any official recognition.



Then I ran across this article which claims there may be a subconscious marriage strike going on.



It made me evaluate the motives of these men and women so I thought I would toss it in here.



For example if a man and woman are married, own a house and divorce, she is pretty much guaranteed to get the house.



Would this be so for cohabitating? If I am in a partnership with another person owning a house, the court cannot just tell me to give up my half. Amazingly a man who buys a house with a woman he is not married to has more rights than a man who marries the woman.



Likewise if I just lived with the woman could she make a claim on retirement benefits, seperate checking accounts, alimony, etc.



For my own background I'll have you know that this concept of thinking is so foreign to me that it is why it peaked my curiousity. I have been happily married for 8 years. My wife and I own everything jointly and all our checking accounts and things of that nature are joint.



However I also have met married couples that keep seperate checking accounts and things of that nature. Essentually they are married but their finances are seperated or they went in with a prenumptual agreement.



The article contends that the motives of men who only cohabitate and won't marry is the family court system and how it treats them. We don't really need to get into that if you don't want to or you can comment on it as well. I am just curious to get more views on marriage vs. cohabitation and to what degree you will share or do share items within the partnership.



Are you married or do you plan to marry? Will everything be joint or will some things be seperate? If married prenup or no? Etc. If you cohabitate or plan never to marry, why? What would be the ideal division of resources? What about kids, or do you not plan on having any? Add anything you feel I didn't address or just missed.



Nick
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    giaguaragiaguara Posts: 2,724member
    Wait, nobody has told your wife in all those years that if she gets tired of you, and wants a divorce, she is likely to get your house? I assume women getting the house situation is valid only when the couple had kids.



    You forgot one good reason to marry, trumptman: the green card. \
  • Reply 2 of 56
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    I'm not sure by your post if you are more concerned with legal, post-relationship issues, or just the idea that maybe cohabitation is as viable as marriage. BUT, my take is pretty simple:



    If you're going to have kids, you ought to be married, period. There needs to be a legal bond between the parents for any number of reasons, and marriage makes it a lot harder to leave when things get bumpy. IOW, it's a lot easier to just not deal with a problem and walk out of cohabitation than it is a marriage. You have to think long and hard about whether breaking up a marriage is really a good idea -- especially if you have a kid(s).



    If you have no desire to have or cannot afford children, I see nothing wrong with cohabitation as a viable option. It's not going to carry (nor should it carry) the formal benefits of marriage relative to your insurance, taxes, etc. And it's silly to expect people will recognize your partner as your "husband" or "wife", as some people do, but there's nothing wrong with it in general. I myself am a long-time cohabitator.



  • Reply 3 of 56
    709709 Posts: 2,016member
    Cohabitator here as well. Just passed the 7 year mark.



    While I'd be quite happy to live out the rest of our days together as 'partners' (that term is a bit cold, but I don't have a better one), she's started bringing up the 'M' word lately (although infrequently) and it's starting to freak me out a bit.



    I really don't want to get married. I just don't see what the big hoopla is all about. I'm madly in love with her, would never jeopardize our relationship, have been 100% monogomous with her...what more can I do? She's equal partner in all business and property, the sole recipient of insurances... everything a 'wife' would have sans the church contract.



    In reality, I would marry her in a instant if she really needed it. I think she's going through a time where all her HS girlfriends are getting hitched, yet she's been with her man the longest. \
  • Reply 4 of 56
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,447member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Moogs

    I'm not sure by your post if you are more concerned with legal, post-relationship issues, or just the idea that maybe cohabitation is as viable as marriage. BUT, my take is pretty simple:



    If you're going to have kids, you ought to be married, period. There needs to be a legal bond between the parents for any number of reasons, and marriage makes it a lot harder to leave when things get bumpy. IOW, it's a lot easier to just not deal with a problem and walk out of cohabitation than it is a marriage. You have to think long and hard about whether breaking up a marriage is really a good idea -- especially if you have a kid(s).



    If you have no desire to have or cannot afford children, I see nothing wrong with cohabitation as a viable option. It's not going to carry (nor should it carry) the formal benefits of marriage relative to your insurance, taxes, etc. And it's silly to expect people will recognize your partner as your "husband" or "wife", as some people do, but there's nothing wrong with it in general. I myself am a long-time cohabitator.




    Well that for example was one of the issues I brought up, how hard is it to leave when things get bumpy. You contend that it is easier to walk out when you aren't married. However if you owned a house together and were married, the wife could simply "walk out" by filing divorce and be about 85% sure she would get the house to herself as part of the proceedings. This might make it easier for her to leave.



    However if you are cohabitating, she has no means of forcing you to give up your half of the house. That actually might make her have to stick around and work out things.



    I'm also interested in more than the post relationship details. If you cohabitate, how do you decide who pays what? Is it percentage-wise based on income? Is it 50%-50% even if there are income differences? Do you have seperate checking accounts, joint, or both?



    I knew of a married couple who kept their finances seperate. Though they owned a house together, they would actually each include a check for half the mortgage payment from each of their respective checking accounts. This idea was so foreign to me for a married couple that I literally had to apologize for standing with my mouth agape.



    Nick
  • Reply 5 of 56
    Quote:

    If you're going to have kids, you ought to be married, period.



    Also being a "long time cohabitator" and having 2 daughters ( one 3,5 year and one 10 months old ), I can only disagree with the above statement.

    My "girlfriend" and I have been living together for 13 years now, and we never really saw a reason for getting maried. Now, I must admit that the legislation in Belgium is pretty liberal because the belgian law, as far as children are concerned, does not make much difference between married and cohabitating couples.



    The only legal disadvantage is the quite steep heritage taxes unmarried couples have to pay if one of them dies, as the are legally "strangers".



    What really made me respond to your post, Moogs, is the underlying reasoning that being married would make someone think twice before leaving the relationship because of all the legal and financial hassles. While this may be true, you should still consider this:



    If you are only staying married because you don't want all that fuss with getting devorced and all the financial and legal implications, then what is such a marriage really worth???
  • Reply 6 of 56
    randycat99randycat99 Posts: 1,919member
    Perhaps it would be interesting to delve further if it really is the ceremony of marriage (the wedding) that she really longs for or a legal contract with signatures that she wants. I can understand the former, and I wouldn't deny the person I love from that experience (similar to "experiencing" the prom and having a baby as meaningful checkpoints in life). What I wonder is if a woman would be game to participate in a "wedding" with all its fanfare, except with all of the legal considerations removed? Would she get what she wants out of it, or would it still not seem "real" enough?
  • Reply 7 of 56
    andersanders Posts: 6,523member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Dylsexic Manupilator



    What really made me respond to your post, Moogs, is the underlying reasoning that being married would make someone think twice before leaving the relationship because of all the legal and financial hassles. While this may be true, you should still consider this:



    If you are only staying married because you don't want all that fuss with getting devorced and all the financial and legal implications, then what is such a marriage really worth???




    You are european so you don´t understand.
  • Reply 8 of 56
    guilty as charged



    edit: sp (yes, in a 3 word post\ )
  • Reply 9 of 56
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    I think one solution is to make marriage, co-habitation, ceremonies, whatever, all legally equal. That way there is no distinction to worry about.
  • Reply 10 of 56
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,447member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bunge

    I think one solution is to make marriage, co-habitation, ceremonies, whatever, all legally equal. That way there is no distinction to worry about.



    I could be wrong but most of the cohabitators who have "discussed" (read yelled) at me about this almost always included the rational that they didn't need some sort of legal agreement from the state to prove they loved someone. Even if they were legally equal, wouldn't it still be a document from the state?



    Nick
  • Reply 11 of 56
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    Quote:

    I'm also interested in more than the post relationship details. If you cohabitate, how do you decide who pays what? Is it percentage-wise based on income? Is it 50%-50% even if there are income differences? Do you have seperate checking accounts, joint, or both?



    I think there is really no simple rule of thumb to these sorts of questions. It has to be worked out on a person-by-person basis. It really depends on how work-oriented both people are, how materialistic they are, etc. Generally, I suspect most long-time cohabitators try and find a more or less equal balance in paying for the bills -- for example one person may pay the rent, while the other handles all the bills, groceries, household items, etc.



    Or maybe one person handles all the car payments and the other the rent. It just depends very heavily on the lifestyle and personality of the two people. And even on whether one or the other wants to be a dominant provider.





    To answer Dyslexic's question: I wasn't so much implying that people stay in a marriage ONLY because it's such a hassle to get out (such a marriage would be worthless by definition). Just that, in the case where you get mentally worn down - and that happens even in GOOD marriages - the "I could just quit" option carries with it a heavy price (emotionally and socially, as well as financially). So for most people who have a decent marriage / relationship, they will prefer to work their way through the bad times. They don't even see quitting as an option, whereas a cohabitator will invariably see it as an option, simply because it is a much easier path than dealing with a tough problem.



    That said, if you are a person of character and integrity, I suppose one could argue that it doesn't matter which type of relationship you're in -- you won't quit either way. I just like the idea (for the kids' sake, in this country anyway) of the two parents being married. Maybe where the legal systems are vastly different, cohabitators with kids is more apt to work out smoothly. I really don't know.
  • Reply 12 of 56
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    ...they didn't need some sort of legal agreement from the state to prove they loved someone.



    Well, they might not realize it, but it's more than just proof you love someone. It's hospital visitation rights, legal signatures in case of accidents, tax laws, who knows what else.
  • Reply 13 of 56
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    "I'm madly in love with her, would never jeopardize our relationship, have been 100% monogomous with her...what more can I do?"



    That's an easy one.



    Get. ****ing. Married.







    Hey...you asked.
  • Reply 14 of 56
    Quote:

    I wasn't so much implying that people stay in a marriage ONLY because it's such a hassle to get out (such a marriage would be worthless by definition). Just that, in the case where you get mentally worn down - and that happens even in GOOD marriages - the "I could just quit" option carries with it a heavy price (emotionally and socially, as well as financially). So for most people who have a decent marriage / relationship, they will prefer to work their way through the bad times. They don't even see quitting as an option, whereas a cohabitator will invariably see it as an option, simply because it is a much easier path than dealing with a tough problem.



    I hear what you're saying but I still have a hard time grasping the idea that a marriage would be more "solid" than a cohabitation, simply because there are less strings attached to the latter.

    Also, following the same logic, non married long time cohabitators would have to split up more easily and more frequently that married couples, which I find hard to believe.



    my 2c
  • Reply 15 of 56
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,447member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bunge

    Well, they might not realize it, but it's more than just proof you love someone. It's hospital visitation rights, legal signatures in case of accidents, tax laws, who knows what else.



    Well in some cases that might be the point though right? You can have legal documents drawn up that detail the type of treatment you are to receive if you are incapacitated to the point of being unable to make your own decisions. Most hospitals recognize the rights of cohabitation and allow them as visitors. I personally can't see any advantages tax-wise.



    Likewise some of these folks have to know there are risks that you mention, but choose to ignore them to avoid the risks associated with divorce or more legal entanglements.



    I guess what I am getting at is that while some might not be bright enough to realize the risks of cohabitation without marriage, others do know them and simply choose to go on in spite of them because they don't want the legal entanglements.



    Nick
  • Reply 16 of 56
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    I guess what I am getting at is that while some might not be bright enough to realize the risks of cohabitation without marriage, others do know them and simply choose to go on in spite of them because they don't want the legal entanglements.



    Yeah. Is this a problem? I mean, is there a reason to semi-force marriage for some reason?
  • Reply 17 of 56
    Hmm, I've given this issue some thought and I guess it all comes down to being able to live in harmony with your partner. Everyone figure out how for yourselves...



    Being able to anticipate future problems, or to ensure relationships, which may wery well be the very origin of marriage in the first place, to establish some sort of contract or "insurance", is typically human behaviour.



    Doing just the opposite also is though...
  • Reply 18 of 56
    willoughbywilloughby Posts: 1,457member
    I've been married for over a year now. As soon as we were engaged we combined our accounts and everything has been joint since then. Both of our names are on everything including cars and credit cards.



    Recently my Wife wanted to quit her job to pursue a writing career (almost finished her first book!) and I happily agreed. So currently I'm the only bread winner in the family but we still have equal share/say in all financial matters.



    Now our friends on the other hand, who recently got engaged, have seperate accounts for everything and plan to keep it that way even after they are married. They split everything! It is actually really annoying. When they go out to dinner with us, they both study the check to figure out who ate what and who owes how much. In fact, they just bought a house and she had to pick up a second job to afford her "half" of the housing expenses!



    I find that really strange. I guess they look at us and think that we're strange though. \
  • Reply 19 of 56
    giaguaragiaguara Posts: 2,724member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    I guess what I am getting at is that while some might not be bright enough to realize the risks of cohabitation without marriage, others do know them [...]



    Excuse-moi? I am European ...
  • Reply 20 of 56
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,447member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Willoughby

    I've been married for over a year now. As soon as we were engaged we combined our accounts and everything has been joint since then. Both of our names are on everything including cars and credit cards.



    Recently my Wife wanted to quit her job to pursue a writing career (almost finished her first book!) and I happily agreed. So currently I'm the only bread winner in the family but we still have equal share/say in all financial matters.



    Now our friends on the other hand, who recently got engaged, have seperate accounts for everything and plan to keep it that way even after they are married. They split everything! It is actually really annoying. When they go out to dinner with us, they both study the check to figure out who ate what and who owes how much. In fact, they just bought a house and she had to pick up a second job to afford her "half" of the housing expenses!



    I find that really strange. I guess they look at us and think that we're strange though. \




    That is amazing...hi, this is my wife, she will now be working weekends so she can make her half of the house payment since she earns less.... Or hey this is my husband, he became incapacitated due to an injury so I tossed him off a cliff....



    Are they going in with some sort of prenuptual agreement? Has anyone here ever gone into marriage with a prenup?



    Nick
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