The happily unmarried couples

More than 5 million unmarried couples cohabit in the U.S., nearly eight times the number in 1970, and a record-breaking 40% of babies born in 2007 had

Celebrities, gay-marriage bans and fear of divorce are helping fuel the rise in unwedded bliss.

unmarried parents (that's up 25% from 2002). Sure, there are plenty of baby-daddies in the Levi Johnston vein, i.e., young and accidental. But nonmarital births have increased the most among women ages 25 to 39, doubling since 1980, thanks in part to a small but growing demographic a sociologist has dubbed committed unmarrieds (CUs). These are the happily unwed — think Brad and Angelina, Oprah and Stedman, Goldie and Kurt — whose commitment to their partners is as strong as their stance against marriage.

Raymond McCauley, 43, a biotech engineer in Mountain View, Calif., who has twin 2-year-olds with his partner of five years, Kristina Hathaway.

Celebrities, gay-marriage bans and fear of divorce are helping fuel the rise in unwedded bliss. "We love each other far, far too much to ever actually get married," says Raymond McCauley, 43, a biotech engineer in Mountain View, Calif., who has twin 2-year-olds with his partner of five years, Kristina Hathaway. His opposition to marriage is political, in solidarity with gays who can't legally wed in most states, and personal — he and his partner both got divorced in their 20s, an experience that has led McCauley to liken marriage to food poisoning: "You don't want to eat that thing again, even if you know it's perfectly fine this time."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

As Hollywood's most talked about couple, "Brangelina" draw their fair share of attention. But despite six kids (three adopted, three biological) and four very public years together, the couple has yet to tie the knot. In 2006, Pitt said that he would only consider marriage "when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able," but also added in 2008 that the couple would marry if they "feel it's important to (their) kids."

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed

The 24-year relationship between KISS rocker Gene Simmons and actress and model Shannon Tweed can best be summarized by the title of the debut episode of their reality show: "Happily Unmarried." Scheduled to start its fourth season this summer, the show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, kicked off its first year with Tweed surprising Simmons with an ambush wedding, complete with a real rabbi (just in case). "The idea is to be happily unmarried, not miserable, married," remarked a less-than-thrilled Simmons. "What is it about marriage and women?"

Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham

If there's truth to the saying that "behind every great man is a great woman," what does that say about Stedman Graham, the romantic partner of the world's most powerful and influential woman, Oprah Winfrey? The two have been together for more than 20 years and were even engaged to wed in 1992, but no ceremony took place. According to Oprah, her fans should return their wedding gifts. "The truth of the matter is, had we gotten married we wouldn't be together now, because in no way is this a traditional relationship."

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon

Kevin Costner gets the girl in the fan-favorite baseball flick, Bull Durham, but in a case of life not imitating art, it was supporting actor Tim Robbins who walked away with leading actress Susan Sarandon. The two have been together in the 21 years since, but still aren't hearing wedding bells. "When you are not married, I think it is not as easy to take each other for granted," said Sarandon. "When you say 'till death do us part,' you don't have to reaffirm your love for each other as often."

Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn

Coming out of a failed marriage, Kurt Russell connected with Goldie Hawn on the set of their 1984 film Swing Shift. One child and 26 years later, they know that if it's not broken, why fix it? "We have done just perfectly without marrying," said Hawn. "I already feel devoted and isn't that what marriage is supposed to do? So as long as my emotional state is in a state of devotion, honesty, caring and loving, then we're fine."

Stuart Townsend and Charlize Theron

While Charlize Theron has refused to wed until the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S., that doesn't stop her 8-year partner Stuart Townsend from regarding the couple as hitched. "I'm married," Townsend said. "I didn't do a church wedding or anything, but we're married. We're husband and wife."

Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts

Both children of divorce, actors Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts aren't rushing into matrimony. Despite a four-year relationship, two kids and plenty of wedding rumors, the couple has no plans to tie the knot. "Maybe one day we'll just wake up and go, 'Hey, let's do this.' And maybe not," said Watts. "He and I have a family. We're very much together. We just don't have that certificate, and that's OK with both of us."

Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange

With two kids and a 27-year relationship, Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange and playwright/actor Sam Shepard have been together longer than many married couples. Both performers were recovering from failed marriages when they met on the set of the 1982 film Frances, and neither was eager to rush back into a commitment. "We talk about it from time to time," she says. "But we've never felt the necessity. Paco was my only official marriage. Sam and I have a marriage of the spirit."

Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis

Celebrity couples find a variety of reasons for avoiding the walk down the aisle; Johnny Depp is straightforward about his. "It would be a shame to ruin her last name! It's so perfect — Vanessa Paradis. So beautiful. It would be such a drag to stick her with Paradis-Depp. It's like a flat note." But after 11 years and two children together, Depp hasn't ruled out matrimony entirely. "If she ever said: 'Hey, let's get hitched,' I would do it in a second. We'll do it if the kids want us to, or maybe when the kids are old enough to enjoy it with us."


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