Unlike in other societies, cohabitation in the Middle East is still regarded as a taboo. Countries in the Middle East are considered conservative in nature since they tend to follow laws which are set in parallel to a religious model. The major religions in the Middle East areChristianity, Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, and all these three religions consider cohabitation as a “sin against God”. Consequently, the laws in the Middle Eastern countries, called “family law”, forbid couples living together without being officially married because it is considered as “disrupting public decency”. Despite its limited social and legal acceptance, cohabitation in the Middle East has become an increasing trend for younger generations. Moreover, unmarried couples who live together are usually found in the urban parts of a country such as Beirut in Lebanon.
The reasons behind why couples cohabit are various. Some partners choose to cohabit for financial purposes such as dividing the living expenses that includes sharing the rent and splitting the bills and taxes. Thus, it seems both financially and economically reasonable for them to live together. On the other hand, couples might cohabit because the law does not permit them to be legally married. These cases mostly include homosexual couples, or individuals who are already married to another person.
In addition to the financial and legal reasons of cohabitation, some partners live together for emotional purposes. Often, individuals need the long-term presence of someone because they feel emotionally dependent on others. Hence, they prefer to cohabit in order to increase emotional and sexual intimacy without the obligations of being married.
On the other hand, cohabitation can be considered as a test of the couple’s compatibility with each other before they commit to the legal union of marriage in the future. Partners view living together as an opportunity that enables them to learn about each other’s habits and character. They will also be able to observe and practice how to operate as a couple on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless if the “trial” marriage were not to be successful, the couple may believe that their break up will be a less complicated dissolution.
The thought that the breakup of a cohabiting relationship is easier than divorce might not be entirely true. The breakup of cohabitants involves dividing a household, which can lead to various conflicts over property ownership, responsibility for debts and general belongings. Unlike marriage, the law does not provide any rights and privileges to cohabiters in the case of a breakup. Hence, the division of assets between the ex-couple often becomes a controversial issue.
Even though some people regard cohabitation as a chance to build an intimate relationship which lacks an unhappy marriage and divorce, however it often does not make a positive contribution to future marital stability. In the majority of cases, cohabitation does not lead to marriage. Moreover, the chances of divorce increase amongst the cohabiters who get wed.
The reasons why cohabiters have increased chances of divorce is because they are more unconventional than others and tend to be less committed to the institution of marriage. Moreover, they are mostly either not settled or fear the permanent relationship offered by the vows of wedlock. Furthermore, the lack of a marital contract also increases the risk of abuse. Cohabiting women are physically and sexually more abused than married women. This might be because of the absence of laws and rights that protect them.
Cohabitation has revealed various negative aspects that are often over-looked by some individuals. As a result, it is significant to consider the different aspects of cohabiting if one is seeking a long-lasting relationship or a future marriage. Couples should communicate and have a common understanding about the meaning of living together. For example, in the cases where partners have different philosophies about marriage, clashes arise later on since one partner is for getting married while the other is against the idea.
Cohabitation has proved to be more than simply a positive try-out for marriage, because it sometimes turns out to be rather harmful for the couple. Nonetheless, the cohabitation which is considered the least harmful is when partners are definitely planning to get married. As a result, cohabitation is advised to be limited to the shortest possible period of time in order to avoid making it a habit as living for a long period with a partner might bring forth a risk of low-commitment which is opposite of what is necessary for a successful marriage.