Young people today are more accepting of living together with their partners before marriage than in the past. According to the National Statistical Office, about half (48%) of all respondents said, “Women and men can live together before marriage.” Compared to the 40.5% in 2010 on the same question, that represents an increase of 7.5%. Young people are becoming more acceptable of the living arrangement because of difficult marriage process, poor financial situations, and so on. Still, there are a lot of people who believe living together before marriage is unethical and wrong. To further discuss the issue, SMT asked two Sookmyungians to share their thoughts.
Living Together Before Marriage Is Necessary
SCHOOL OF GLOBAL SERVICE’ 16
Research has shown that couples that live together before marriage will likely get divorced after marriage. However, the reason for this belief is the illogical and stereotypical stance society takes towards couples who live together before marriage. While some people oppose the idea, I strongly believe that living together before marriage is necessary. With cohabitation, couples better prepare for their future married life by learning more about each other and as a result, the possibility of later divorcing will actually decrease, contrary to popular belief.
For starters, living together gives couples more time to learn more about each other before taking that step into marriage. When a couple lives together under the same roof and shares the living space, they will naturally spend more time together and run into more unexpected situations. Couples living together cannot just walk out the door when they run into conflicts of opinion; instead, they must talk to work things out. Through trial and error and more time spent together, couples can better understand each other’s personality and determine if they are a good fit together. Thus, living together before marriage is effective because people learn through experience, which in turn, will help them prepare for their life together. Cohabitation before marriage can be seen as a mock marriage in which couples determine if they would have a successful marriage later on.
There is a long-held belief that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced. However, cohabitation may also bring about a split between the couple, but the result will be less complex. Most religions insist that living together before marriage is a sin, but there is no other justifiable reason to outlaw or forbid cohabitation before marriage or even treat it a social taboo. Couples that live together will eventually, on their own, determine if their marriage would be happy. If they cannot foresee a happy marriage, they will part beforehand. Though there are different definitions of marriage, all definitions incorporate the mutual concession that marriage means lifelong companionship. It is far better for couples to learn about their partner prior to marriage instead of regretting their decision and ending the marriage in divorce.
DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH LANGUAGE & CULTURE’ 16
Personally, I disagree with living together before marriage. A few years ago, most people were like me and few people engaged in it, but recently, people have changed their views towards it. People are seeing living together before marriage as acceptable and without harm. However, I don't think this positive view towards it can remove all the negative aspects of it.
Firstly, the social welfare system in Korea has not yet been fully established to protect individuals living in common-law marriages. In France, couples living together prior to marriage is pretty common, so there are numerous laws and the social system is set up to protect all persons. In France, individuals in legal marriages as well as those in common-law marriages are protected equally under the law. Also, children from common-law marriages are also protected under French law. Compared to France, Korean has no safety net for common-law marriage couples, not to imagine what would happen if a child were involved. At the moment, Korea has not yet established policy, a social welfare system, or laws to protect and care for the child. As a result, many more social issues will arise like abortion or single motherhood. The Korean government has a very small and weak safety net. Without changes to social welfare, it is impossible for Koreas to say, 'Couples should live together before marriage'.
Second, in Korea, people still look down on couples that live together prior to marriage. We cannot expect society to suddenly accept something that has been frowned upon for years. In Korea, where Confucian ideas still remain, the older generation are still unforgiving of living together before marriage. Someone would refute why I should change my decision because of other’s prejudice. However, social expectations cannot be ignored. While some may claim living together before marriage has merit and is a picture of what is to come after marriage, remember you are part of society and you have a responsibility to act according to social norms.