Annie Scudder takes us from the 1960s to today, when laws against “living in sin” remain on the books in some American states.
On TrèsSugar this week, Mad Men’s Peggy Olson opens the door on a discussion of cohabitation.
“He’s using you for practice,” Peggy Olson’s Catholic mother warns this week on Mad Men. Mrs. Olson isn’t too pleased that her working-girl daughter has decided to “live in sin,” as the elder Olson describes it, with her boyfriend Abe. Modern American women with traditional parents may find the disapproval over moving in together familiar, but compared to the 1960s, society in general has become much more accepting of cohabitation.
Despite her rebellious ways, we still see Peggy adopting some of the habits of a homemaker onMad Men. Dressed in an apron, she makes a ham for Abe, his favorite. She even has a portrait of John F. Kennedy hanging in her home, just like her mom. But back then, couples who lived together weren’t necessarily on their way to marriage. In the 1960s and ’70s the minority of couples who “shacked up” saw it as a progressive statement against marriage and viewed living together an end in itself.
Today, it’s often regarded as a step toward marriage; the higher divorce rate may explain the desire to test things out first. In 2002, the National Survey of Family Growth found that 65 percent of unmarried couples who lived together in fact got married within five years. So as cohabitation becomes mainstream in America, many of those couples still see a trip down the aisle as their path toward happily ever after. They’ll just practice, often with each other, first.
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