Marriage and Cohabitation

Notes on the Trends in Marriage and Cohaitation

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Changing Family Patterns
Marriage and Cohabitation
You can use this hand out in the following essay exam questions:
When looking at the changing family patterns
(It can also be used when discussing the family diversity)
The Facts:
· Fewer people are marrying (marriage rates are at their lowest since
· There has been however more remarriages.
­ 4 out of every 10 (2004) were remarriages.
· This could be seen as serial monogamy (marriage
divorce remarriage)
· People are marrying later: the age has risen by 7 years since 1972.
­ Men 32
­ Women 30
· People are less likely to marry in a church. 34% in 2005.
The Reasons for the changes in Marriage
1/: Change in position of women
Women have better career prospects. Less dependent on men
2/: Secularisation
This is the weakening influence the church has over people. People are now free
to choose whether to marry or not.
3/: Declining Stigma
Cohabitation, remaining single and children outside marriage are now more
widely accepted No more `shotgun' weddings.
4/: Fear of divorce
The rising divorce rates puts people off getting married:
Prenuptial agreements
Marriage AO2
The institution of marriage is one that remains popular (FUNCTIONALIST/
­ Most people, whether single, divorced or cohabiting, still see
marriage as a desirable objective in their lives.

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For example, remarriages (i.e. in which one or both
partners have been divorced) now make up over
onethird of marriages.
· These people are obviously committed to the institution
of marriage despite their previous negative experience
of it.
People are delaying marriage rather than rejecting it
­ Most people will marry at some point in their lives.
· However, people are now marrying later in life, probably
after a period of cohabitation
Cohabitation: Involves an unmarried couple in a sexual relationship living
together.…read more

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Cohabiting is a trial marriage
Couples could be waiting for a divorce to come through.
· Cohabitation is a alternative to marriage
­ Young people see cohabitation as a conscious attempt to create a
more personally negotiated and equal relationship
· Rather than the patriarchal marriage.
Women who cohabit do less house work than their married counterparts.…read more


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