Marriage is not the only goal

Three reasons why I think cohabitation might be a practical alternative to marriage.

The latest National Youth Survey showed that more youths think that marriage is unnecessary. The survey's results, released by the National Youth Council today, showed that six per cent more youths felt this way, compared to the previous survey from 2013.

Wait a minute. Just last week, the National Population and Talent Division revealed that most singles intend to marry. So what does that mean?

I pondered for a while and concluded, that sounds just like me.

While I intend to marry eventually, I don't think marriage is necessary. It is not the only goal of a long-term relationship. Frankly, I'd rather cohabit before getting married. And apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that cohabitation is a feasible and practical alternative.

 Last month, Youth.SG conducted a poll with 330 youths aged 14 to 26, where almost half said they were open to cohabitation before marriage.

In another poll we did in January at National University of Singapore, majority of the respondents who did not want to marry felt they would be content with cohabiting.  

Essentially, many of us wish to cohabit before taking the huge step. But hey, we aren't proclaiming that we never intend to get married. Unlike my parents' generation, I don't see the appeal of marriage, at least not in my twenties.

Besides, marriage and cohabitation is basically the same thing. The latter just doesn't burn a hole in our pocket and take as huge a toll on us.

Hear me out. 

1. The cost of getting hitched.

Ideally, I just need to fork out $42 for the marriage fee, and the solemnisation would mark the end of the marriage process. However, growing up in Singapore, wedding celebrations are a must.

Let's assume that I've fallen into the capitalistic marketing ploys that make engagement rings and hotel banquets necessary. In planning our dream wedding, my spouse and I could rack up a five-figure sum, or even six. 

Even if we took the path less trodden and scrap extravagant wedding plans in favour of a smaller wedding dinner with close family and friends, that'd still cost us thousands. 

2. Reality sucks. Sometimes, relationships just don't work out.

Both marriage and cohabitation require a great amount of commitment from the parties involved. So in the event of a break-up, it is not as simple as just walking away.

When an unwed, cohabiting couple break up, they'd have to go through almost everything a married couple does – from splitting the cost of the home and dividing the furniture, to deciding who keeps the cat.

The difference is, unmarried couples don't have to go through paperwork and lawyers. Even the most amicable divorce would take its toll on anyone. And I'm not being pessimistic. Divorce rates in Singapore have been increasing.

3. Try before you buy.

I view cohabitation as a trial version of marriage. 

In both cases, you're living with your partner for an extended period of time, paying the bills and arguing about whose side of the bed is whose. You're learning the nitty-gritty aspects of living with a partner. When bigger arguments ensue, you learn to cope because you cannot just go home; you live together. 

Just like a trial session at the gym, you sign a contract if you're satisfied. If you enjoyed cohabiting, maybe marriage is on the horizon. 

So there we have it. Practicality aside, I don't see faults in cohabitation that marriage could spare me from. 

But I'm not saying that I would never get married. I might, if both my partner and I are assured that our relationship could withstand the stresses of marriage. 

Till then, if my partner and I are in a stable and loving relationship and we decide to cohabit before walking down the aisle, is that wrong?