Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Linda J. Waite
Cohabitation is a tentative, nonlegal coresidential union that does not require or imply a lifetime commitment to stay together. Perhaps as a result, cohabiting unions break up at a much higher rate than do marriages. Cohabitors have no responsibility for financial support of their partner, and most do not pool financial resources. Cohabitors are more likely than married couples both to value separate leisure activities and to keep their social lives independent and are much less likely than husbands and wives to be monogamous. Cohabitors may choose this arrangement because it carries no formal constraints or responsibilities. A substantial proportion of cohabiting couples have definite plans to marry, and these couples tend to behave like already-married couples. Others have no plans to marry, and these tentative and uncommitted relationships are quite fragile. The tentative, impermanent, and socially unsupported nature of this latter type of cohabitation impedes the ability of this ...