A civil marriage is the legal aspect of the marriage. Other forms of marriages also exist in the society such as polygamy in which a person takes more than one marriage partner. These are the norm in some societies and considered illegal in others. Similarly, same-sex marriages have been recognized as civil unions in some countries and have no legal status in others.
These are relatively new types of unions and have yet to find social acceptance. In fact, even in places where they are legally recognized a vast majority still frowns upon them. There exist some other legal status similar to marriage:
1. Cohabitation is an emotional and physically intimate relationship which includes a common living place and which exists without any legal and religious sanction. Many people opt for cohabitation because they are either testing their compatibility or want to establish financial security before marrying. Also, in cases where they desire to live as married couples when same-sex, interracial or interreligious marriages are illegal or not permitted. It could also be a way to avoid divorce or avoid persecution as a polygamist. It does not legally commit them for a long period of time and it is easier to establish and dissolve.
2. The Civil Union is a recognized union similar to marriage. Law in many developed countries has established it in order to provide same-sex couples with rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar or identical to opposite-sex civil marriage. Various countries use various terms to describe such unions such as civil partnership, common law marriage, stable unions etc. The exact level of rights, benefits, and obligations also vary.
3. Domestic Partnership is a legal or personal relationship between individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not joined in traditional marriage or in a civil union. The terminology and the legal rights for such unions also vary from place to place. Some domestic partners also enter into agreements in order to agree contractually to issues involving property ownership, support obligations, and similar issues. The main difference between civil unions and domestic partnership is that the latter may involve different-sex couples.
The numbers of these unions are far lesser than civil marriages but have been increasing steadily. They are gaining more and more social acceptance allowing couples to follow their heart without any fear of persecution. As the lesser number of youngsters opt for civil marriages, these alternatives are definitely finding favor in their eyes. There are a variety of reasons why less and fewer people are interested in getting married traditionally. Some of them are:
1. Waiting for the Right Person: People are definitely giving a lot more thought before they marry. They weigh their options carefully and wait for the right person with whom they connect. They no longer marry just because “it’s time” or because everyone around them is married. They are willing to wait as long as it takes to meet their soulmate. There is no social pressure either as people are marrying later and later in life. Sexual inclinations also have a role to play when we refer to the “right” person. Same-sex unions are finding social acceptance allowing people to express and value their preferences. They are unwilling to hide behind an unhappy marriage for the sake of social approval.
2. Commitment Phobia: People are unwilling to make long-term commitments. The fast-paced life, freewheeling lifestyle, availability of multiple choices, changing social mores and also the responsibilities that come with a commitment make people decide against marriage.
3. Career: As careers and financial success, women’s emancipation, and independence gain importance, people want to dedicate their maximum time to their work. Marriage and children come in the way of their careers and success, especially for women. Modern women are more focused on their desires and well-being and marriage often leads to a break in their climb up the financial success and social ladder. So a lot of them keep postponing marriage.
4. Fear of Divorce: Contemporary society is full of numerous examples of marriages failing and ending up in divorce. These result in the uprooting of children, emotional upheaval, economic loss in the form of litigation costs, alimony and child support. All this has led to an all-pervasive belief that marriage as an institution in its traditional form might be redundant.
5. Previous Bad Experience: Previous bad experience either from an earlier marriage, parent’s marriage (coming from a broken home) or that of a close friend or a relative can be responsible for a lot of people deciding not to marry.