Will living together before marriage ruin your relationship?

May 3 2012 | Guest post by Annarhoswen

Offbeat Bride just talked about pre-wedding cohabitation from the perspective of the still-engaged, so we thought we'd look at it from the married-people side here on Offbeat Home, too!

Living in Sin No More
Photo (and pillow!) by Carly
I recently read the New York Times article The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage, and found myself filled with thoughts. I disagree with much of what is written in the article, specifically because of what the author says at the end:

I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake.

A mentor of mine used to say, "The best time to work on someone's marriage is before he or she has one," and in our era, that may mean before cohabitation.

Speaking from purely anecdotal evidence, if I had waited until after marrying my partner to move in together, I probably would have gotten a divorce. We have lived together for over five years and have learned so much about each other and ourselves that our relationship is stronger than ever. I don't feel trapped, I don't feel like he isn't committed and I definitely don't feel like I'm marrying him just because it seems like the thing to do. After six and half years together, I know, clearly, that I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I have known friends that have broken up after moving in together because they drove each other nuts in a way that wouldn't have happened unless they moved in together.

The problem isn't cohabitation before marriage, it's the societal pressure to get married (I'm looking at you, Wedding Industrial Complex) and that if you don't get married by, say, 30, you're a failure as a human being (there's also something to be said for gender stereotypes and the pressure to reproduce).

If I went back in time six years, I'd still choose to live with my partner. I think it was the right choice for us. Are you on board with cohabitation before marriage, or do you think it'll endanger the future of your relationship?

  1. I am sure a lot of relationships benefited from waiting, and on the other hand a lot of relationships benefited from moving in beforehand.I think each relationship is different – so it is ignorant to use a blanket statement saying all relationships will last longer if they wait vs moving in before.

    We moved in together before marrying and for us it was great. Over the course of our relationship I developed a medical condition that can make or break a marriage. I hate to say it this way, but moving in together beforehand allowed me to see if this man was up for the challenge of a lifetime of issues – and he was more than ready to step to the plate.

    Of course if we waited to move in afterward he still would of stayed no matter what, but I didn't have to go down the isle with any "what if's" floating in my mind.

    21 agree
    • "It is ignorant to use a blanket statement saying all relationships will last longer if they wait vs moving in before."

      I think you've hit the nail on the head here. Maybe I'm biased but I feel like a lot of the problem in situations like this is people trying to do things "the right way" instead of doing what's right for them.

      28 agree
    • I completely am in the same boat!

      My (now) husband and I moved in at around 6 months, and it ended up being the best thing we ever did.

      We had a make-it-or-break it situation about a year after living together (he was laid off due to the company not doing well).

      Obviously not as dire as medical issues, but many women would have broken up with a man who "couldn't support them" (even though we were both working before he was laid off, I ended up working harder and he helped me get more work for my job along with his own job hunt.)

      It was stressful, but we worked through it because we knew we had something special together, and now 4 years later (and his steady job later) we're married and close to celebrating our 1 year anniversary.

      Living together beforehand helped us realize that we could work through the tough times through our own commitment and dedication to each other without officially being married, which makes the official stuff a cherry on top.

      5 agree
  2. My husband and I waited to live together. It was a small decision–and one we made easily only because I lived, at the time, five blocks from him and the condo we now own together. There was something very old-fashioned about it that we both loved. And it all seemed very romantic until we did finally move in together–into a very small space–and we found ourselves needing to adjust to not only being legally bound (whoa!), but to sharing the smallest space in the world. So I don't mind what other people do, but living apart before marriage was something that delighted us, and then ultimately frustrated and confused us ๐Ÿ™‚ So I realize I'm not saying much here, but that's just the thing: there are plusses and minuses to either side and it's truly up to the couple themselves to decide which side to take. Would I do it the same way again? Yes, but that's only because I've familiar with it; I'm living it–and everything has turned out okay. (Better than okay.)

    8 agree
    • I was gonna bring this up too! Guess it's just hard for people to let this idea of cohabitation predicting divorce go.

      2 agree
  3. I definitely disagree with the common excuse of "testing" your marriage by living with someone. I think that's the common pitfall. And living together, especially before you're ready, can place pressure that isn't needed. Once you're together, breaking up can be a huge inconvenience that can cause people to stay together longer than they should. I am not against living together before marriage, or even engagement, but I think you should already know that you will be getting married, or staying together forever. And that means honest communication between the two of you.

    7 agree
    • I am a bit confused about your latter statement. If one knows they will be together until death before moving in – then how is that really that much different than waiting to move in until after marriage? You're already there emotionally, just need to sign some papers.

      13 agree
      • For one, I do think it's ok to wait to be married. Neither waiting or moving is the right answer for all couples. While moving in and marriage do require a big commitment, there is a difference. It's hard to describe, but having lived together before marriage, I don't like feeling like I am married.

        Finally, I think it's best to find out everything about each other before moving in together, and not use it as a method to learn more.

        1 agrees
        • The issue is that there are things you don't learn about another person until you move in together. There is no amounts of talking or just "being" together that can make up for actually living together. You don't *really* know someone until you lived with them.

          19 agree
          • I agree with this sentiment – my BFF would have stayed with her guy for a much longer time, except they moved in together, and he became AWFUL. Good thing she realized that before they went even further down their relationship (aka marriage) – but she wouldn't have found out if she didn't live with him first.

            5 agree
      • Maybe you are exactly ready to be married, but don't have the money? That was the case for me and my partner. We knew we wanted to be together forever but we certainly couldnt afford a wedding.

        Also, we fall outside a lot of these pros and cons -we were thrown together as students. We were cohabiting without choice! Well we did have separate rooms, but the point remains that we knew what living with the other was like. We knew about tidyness and cooking and all the rest. So when we made the decision to get a flat together it was just moving from 2 room to 1.

        2 agree
    • I have to disagree, and even feel the words to be condescending.

      Moving out is less of an issue then many make out. Most people live together when young and don't seem to have as much as they will have later. Pressure is something that will always be on you, best learn to deal with it now. If anything it gets greater AFTER the wedding, if my experience is remotely common.

      I also know several couples who lived together and found that they would not work out. Moving one out took all of two days and both went on with their lives. Compare that to a divorce process. There is enough doubt in life without doing what one can to remove as much of it as possible. For example I COULD eat what I liked and hope to remain healthy. Or I could eat a balanced, reasonable diet and more likely ensure that this will be the case.

      I've been considering this issue, as we are newly married and lived together for 3 years prior to getting married. Aside from the acceptance of family and the pressure to have kids pronto nothing much has changed. More and more I am convinced that marriage is a state that on some level exists to give comfort to society and it's managers, with the comfort granted to those in the marriage being secondary. The man I am married to now is no more or less likely to be there 100%, father any children we have and pull his share of the weight then the man I was "living in sin" with a week before the wedding. Though I do think the ring he wears is quite sexy. That I'll admit to.

      35 agree
      • Yes! Absolutely! I have been married for 9 months and the only thing that really seems any different than before the wedding is how others view us. We felt the same level of commitment before, but now other people believe us when we say how in love we are.

        11 agree
      • Totally YEP on the ring – I love looking over and seeing it and being all "AWWWW YEEEAHH HUSBAND." ๐Ÿ™‚

        6 agree
      • "More and more I am convinced that marriage is a state that on some level exists to give comfort to society and it's managers, with the comfort granted to those in the marriage being secondary."

        OMG, RIGHT?!

        5 agree
    • I agree that living with someone should be something that is really thought about (in any situation…I've had friendships ruined by living with a friend I wasn't compatible living with). Living with someone, anyone, is hard.

      My boyfriend moving in with me was a big deal, because it meant him sacrificing literally everything and moving 2800km across the country to be with me. That was a big decision, and if neither of us was ready for it, it wouldn't have worked. People were really worried about us breaking up when we moved in together, because without an engagement or a wedding it "would be easy to walk away". I really disagree with that, it would have been easy to walk away when we were dating long distance. Moving in was a step we wanted to take together, but honestly it didn't mean more commitment. We were committed to each other years and years before. We really didn't need moving in together or a wedding to cement that for us. Yes, we got married after living together for 2 years, but that was a legality thing, and really we wanted a fun party to celebrate what we love about each other. Our living together wasn't hinged on a wedding.

      6 agree
  4. For me, for my hubastache, living together before marriage was the right decision for us. Granted, we were forced by simple economics to move in together. But without those few years of living together, of integrating the other into day-to-day living, we would have been a mess post-marriage.

    I think living together is like any other big life decision. You make the choice and deal with whatever the consequences may be. Want to start a business? It may fail. Want to have a baby? Being a parent is not always easy. Want to move in with your significant other? You may find that you're not as compatible. But, you may find that out whether you move in together or not.

    2 agree
  5. In our case, I feel that moving in was the only way to make the relationship work. We dated, but then I had to move away. We stayed together long distance, while planning that I would eventually move back. Which I did do, after about 10 months. I would not have been able to afford living by myself, and it would have seemed kind of silly to move aaalllll the way back to where we met only to move into separate places. I figured, we'd withstood almost a year of long-distance dating, what's a little livin' in sin gonna do?

    And I'm really glad, because it taught me early on about living with someone, we acquired our stuff together, and now we're married. Sometimes, it seems like if you've never lived with someone and you get set in your ways, it can make sharing space harder down the road.

    5 agree
  6. I agree with the first commenter that it's hard to make a blanket statement, though I'm personally glad the option is available to me with very little trouble. (I was briefly worried about mentioning cohabitation in front of my 85-year-old aunt… and then I realised she lives with her boyfriend too…)

    I think another thing to realise is that lots of people 'live with' their partner, maybe before they are even partners! Lots of people meet from living in close proximity in college halls, or in a shared house with lots of other young people. It might only be later they start going out – should one of them then move out so they're not living together before marriage? Meh, maybe.

    For me and my partner, it was definitely hard to go from (a) both living with parents to (b) living in the same uni halls to (c) living separately, across town from each other. It felt like a step backward – and not because we'd ever officially been moved in! Just because we had got used to living in the same building, but each with our own separate space. I think that's quite a common experience.

    3 agree
    • I really agree. I met my dude in our second year of college, spent most of our time together. When we graduated I started grad school and he was working 3 hours away. We stopped being a regular part of each other's lives and it was a step back. We lasted about a year that way until we moved in together to keep our relationship going.

  7. My husband and I dated long distance for six years, and then lived together for two years and had a kiddo before we got married. We ended up getting married because a move ended our common law status, and we didn't want to wait another year to regain that legal status.

    To be honest, marriage has put the larger set of hardships on our relationship. I don't even understand how or why, but its tougher to be married. We still love each other immensely, and so we work it out, but that's no different from when we lived together or dated long distance. I think that living together strengthened what we have, it gave us a set of rules for dealing with each other and with arguments. I don't know that it would have been so easy going long distance to married, nor do I really think its something we ever wanted to try.

    I also think its bizarre that people try to quantify why relationships don't work out, whether you live together or don't a marriage or relationship isn't guaranteed to last.

    9 agree
  8. For us, moving in together before the wedding was absolutely the best decision. We started having fights we didn't have before over our tiny, cramped space. To some, that's a bad thing, but for us it meant we worked trough them and learned that yes, we can fight and come out of it stronger. I also feel that the wedding planning has been enough of a stress without adding new living arrangements on top of it. He does a lot of the cooking, I know where all his misplaced items are, we work fantastically this way.
    My thought, and please everyone feel free to correct me, is that "couples who wait are less likely to divorce" is a bit skewed. To me, it makes sense that a couple who would find cohabitation before marriage to be morally wrong is also likely to find divorce morally wrong. I don't think that you can assess who is and isn't happy in their marriage based on divorce rates alone.

    21 agree
    • Actually from everything I've read (and even the article suggests this if you read carefully)- the research actually totally backs you up. People who sort of slip into living together, without it being an intentional and deliberate thought through decision, and then marry (and often people feel pressured to marry as if that is the ONLY way to continue in the relationship) have a fairly high rate of divorce. Those who move in together intending to remain in a long term relationship (whatever that means for them at the time), and then get married, have much lower rates.

      And then: statistics are statistics – numbers that can only tell a partial story, that must be interpreted and thus are subject to the bias of the interpreter, that can't account for the myriad of factors and realities that make up our lives and relationships.

      And then: marriage isn't necessarily the marker of a successful, meaningful and fulfilling relationship!

      16 agree
      • This is probably the best interpretation of the statistics that I've seen. There's a huge difference between knowing yourself and how you can commit to a relationship and just getting married because it's the thing to do.

        1 agrees
      • I agree with this interpretation. I too think there is a massive difference between the intentional choice to move in together versus just kind of ending up doing it.

        I thought long and hard about moving in with my, now, husband. And I heard the whole run of downsides: statistics about how living together before marriage means we won't last, the whole "he's moving in with you because he doesn't love you enough to marry you" line, and generally other "you'll see" types of comments.

        So, when we decided to make the move, we established it as being like getting married. We worked out that it wasn't a trial to see how it goes, we were going to give our relationship our all.

        We got married a year later for the legal benefits. The only real difference between our cohabiting life and our married life is that people don't ask about my relationship so much anymore and no one harasses me about getting married.

        2 agree
  9. A mentor of mine used to say, "The best time to work on someone's marriage is before he or she has one," and in our era, that may mean before cohabitation.

    I love this sentiment, especially with the adaption to modern relationships. When people ask me that (annoying) question "How's married life?" I shrug and tell them I felt like we really got married when we moved in together. Getting married was special but when we came back from our honeymoon, we did't take the trash out any differently than we did the week before.

    IMHO we shouldn't ask, "is it good to live together before marriage" but "are we taking this decision seriously enough?" Plus, the former assumes that everyone is going to get married (or can).

    I wonder if someday a trend will come around where people throw "moving in" celebrations in lieu of a wedding day. (Just some "In the year 3000" speculation.)

    17 agree
    • we shouldn't ask, "is it good to live together before marriage" but "are we taking this decision seriously enough?"

      I think this may be the point the author of the article was trying to make, and you have summed it up beautifully.

      6 agree
    • I totally agree. The issue isn't did you or didn't you live together before you get married, it's WHY are you getting married. If it's because you've lived together for a long time and think you're supposed to, you'll probably get divorced. But the same could be said of couples who don't live together. If you get married just because you think you're supposed to before you live together you'll probably get the same result.

      3 agree
  10. For my partner and I, moving in together before marriage was the best plan for us. We lived together for a year before the wedding. The first three months were horrible, we both have different sleep cycles and hygiene ideas. After two years of marriage and a brief stint of living with the in laws, there have been some ups and downs. I can't imagine having to go through that AND have not lived together before. We now have our own place and separate bedrooms. It's not ideal but sometimes you have to make compromises.

  11. Statistically, couples that live together befor marriage have a higher rate of divorce. However, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Other articles I've read on this topic suggest that the reason the stats are higher is because once a couple is co-habitating, they feel more pressure to marry because it "just seems like the thing to do", which isn't the greatest reason to get married. So it isn't co-habitating that ends a marriage; it's getting married for the wrong reasons to begin with. Before my husband and I moved in together, we had the 'where is this relationship going' conversation, and we both agreed that we shouldn't move in together unless we knew our relationship had a future. And when we got married, it wasn't because we felt we had to; it was because we loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together. That being said, I think some couples handle co-habitation better than others. My hubs and I had an easy transition because we're both adaptable. I know other couples who went through World War III because they were so set in their ways and not able to adjust to each other's living styles.

    11 agree
    • I so agree with you that correlation is not causation. It's statistically true that tall children have better vocabularies than short children. That's because taller children are (usually) older and therefore have (usually) been in school longer. The causation is education, not height.

      I've always wondered if those divorce statistics have been swayed by cohabiting couples who got married not just because it's "what couples are supposed to do" but because their relationships were on the rocks, and they thought getting married would help fix things. It's likely that people were even telling them, "You're having these problems because you haven't gotten married." Marriage has been treated like a magic relationship wand for a long time.

      8 agree
    • Another possibility is that people who are willing to cohabit are more willing to consider all kinds of "non-traditional" relationship choices and so are more likely to get divorced.

      But of course that's very hard to investigate because getting statistics on 'people whose marriage is unhappy and who would get divorced if only they weren't raised to be against it' is pretty much impossible.

  12. My now husband and I lived together for years before getting married. Our relationship hasn't changed a bit. It has evolved, yes, as long-term relationships do. We decided to move in together when I came to visit him for a few days, and it just felt right. I don't regret it one bit.

  13. My dude and I always planned to live together before we got married. We've both had unpleasant roommate experiences so we know that living with someone else is a huge change and we wanted some time to settle into that.

    That didn't work out. We were married for about 3 months before we were finally cohabitating. It would have been nice to have that adjustment period over before our wedding but between both being incredibly busy and waiting for my husband to be ready, it didn't happen. So we've spent our first year as a married couple settling in to being a cohabitating couple. We've discovered some things that drive us nuts (I am clumsy and tend to walk noisily and I am grumpy if woken during the night which is easy to do, he has issues with scraping plates or picking up in the bathroom). Our pets have had adjustments to make too.

    I still wish we'd done this before the wedding. It would have been awesome to have him there to help with projects or to talk about things, to not have to go home at the end of the night. It's still different when all your laundry is in the same house and you come home to someone else's mess in the kitchen that is your job to clean. We're working it out though. Just like with marriage, you should figure out when to cohabitate based on your relationship. If that means never living in a single house? So be it. It's nice for me to have someone to come home to. I would love to have known from more experience some of the things we both needed to work on before we got married but it doesn't change that I love him and am glad I married him. I don't think it would have changed anything if we'd done it before the wedding other than making it less stressful right after the wedding.

    2 agree
    • Haha, I commented before reading yours….what is with the guys leaving kitchen messes? I've lived with my fiance for about 8 months now (getting married next month), and the ONLY thing we have fought about is me getting irritated when I have to clean up after him….just little things, like not scraping or rinsing a plate so that food gets stuck on, or leaving toast crumbs all over the counter. *sigh*

      • I don't know how, but I managed to luck out – anything left out on a counter bothers my husband, and he putters about when he needs to think, and his puttering is mostly focused on cleaning the kitchen! So it's usually spotless. (However, he has an inability to see dust on furniture, even when it getting to the fur stage!)

      • It's not a guy thing. I'm female and my partner points out all the time how I leave crumbs and stuff everywhere and don't clean up after I cook.

        6 agree
  14. I moved in with my fiance, but it was only after being engaged for several months and after setting a wedding date. He was living with his parents, I was paying rent, and we had an opportunity to house sit for free for about 8 moonths….it made sense for us to live together at that point. It's made us stronger together (and more motivated to find a house to buy faster), though of course we've had our share of minor fights resulting from things we'd have only learned through living together. I've learned that getting him to do his share of the dishes or vacuuming is a huge pain, and he's learned that I get irrationally irritated during certain times of the month when it comes to unwashed dishes or unvacuumed carpets. More importantly, we've learned that we get along very well and the only things we fight about and little issues like occasional household chores.
    My parents (more specifically, my mom) were opposed to us living together before marriage. They have "gifted" all of their children with a certain amount of cash when they got married as a wedding gift to use to pay for a wedding, down payment on a house, etc. However, the clause for the gift was that none of us were supposed to "act adult" before marriage, meaning no moving in together, getting pregnant, or advertising that we were sleeping with our boy/girlfriend. My fiance and I considered this…and decided that the money we'd save on rent and gas, and the valuable time we could spend together, was worth more to us than the "bribe money" (as he put it; I called it a "hymen tax".) So, we moved in together and we're going to be paying for our own wedding. We also briefly considered eloping, collecting the cash, moving in, and then having a "real" wedding on our chosen date…..but decided it wasn't worth it.
    Anyway, I don't think I would have moved in with someone unless we were already engaged and set on a date. I'd worry that it would be too easy to feel "pressured" to marry, even if living together taught us that it wasn't meant to be.

    2 agree
  15. I am also a big believer in living together before marriage. Not for everyone, certainly, but definitely for me. My husband and I lived together for 2 years before we were married, for no other reason than we wanted to. Would things have worked out had we waited? Probably, but for me, it was part of the evolution of our relationship, and it afforded us the opportunity to learn more about each other: how to fight, how to share space, how to divide chores, etc. I'm convinced that we're a stronger couple because of it.

    Incidentally, I also lived with another man before marriage, one that was not successful. Living together was not the reason the marriage ended; rather, it would have shown me plainly that things wouldn't work out had I been brave enough to recognize the signs.

    So, yes. Thumbs up to living together.

    4 agree
  16. I moved in with my husband about six months before we married. We always planned on getting married, but we decided to elope a few weeks after getting engaged. I am very, very happy we went that way.

    On the other side, I lived with my previous partner for nearly 6 years, and we were engaged for the last 2 1/2. He never even got me a ring. Every time I tried to set a date, he'd make excuses. I felt like I'd been trapped in a holding pattern and I was totally miserable. He was quite upset when I broke it off- in his mind, we were as good as married. He didn't see what difference a "piece of paper" made in our lives.

    I wasted a lot of time with that guy, but it was a great learning experience. I am a much better communicator now.

    I think the difference is intention and communication. When the old guy and I moved in, marriage was never discussed- we started living together as roommates and evolved from there. With my husband, we knew almost immediately that we were going to get married, and we set up the timeline before I moved into his house. Of course, our timeline went out the window with the elopement, but it was the right thing for us. We were married the day before our first anniversary!

    2 agree
  17. I don't judge or dictate what others should do, but I would never get married without living together first. I just know me, and that's how it has to be. Now that's assuming we must love together at all…I'm not opposed to living apart even after marriage, but I know I'm in the minority there!

    10 agree
  18. it seems so very situational.

    i've lived with my significant other twice. once was a long-term, but not forever relationship. we were never going to get married, we were just staying together for a while (and open to the idea that "a while" can mean anything, maybe even including forever). living together was totally the right choice for us, emotionally and economically. and we lived together after we broke up (that was just an economic decision, but it worked too).

    on the other hand, my wife and i have been married for a year now. we bought a house together three years ago – let's be honest, that was the moment we decided we were staying together forever. i just wasn't prepared for the more open and public version of that for another year or so.

    living together can mean a lot of different things. and it's not inherently a statement of any sort of long-term intention (no longer than a lease, at least). but it certainly can be. in much the same way that marriage isn't a requirement of having long-term intentions, but it's an option.

    2 agree
    • I really like your point about the wedding being more open and public while moving in together is a more quiet, under the radar experience.

      3 agree
  19. We moved in together after a year and announced it like the huge deal it was. We got hugs and housewarming presents and celebrated like mad. We spent the next four years debating and discussing what marriage meant to us before we decided to go for it. Our wedding felt like an awesome celebration of what we already had, not a big step into new territory. Two years into marriage, we still don't feel like anything has changed much, and that's great.

    I don't like the NYT article's tone because she implies that cohabiting before marriage is a major cause of divorce today. I'd prefer she emphasize more that it *can* have severe drawbacks, but also great advantages. Sliding into living together without ever really discussing commitment or the future does seem like a recipe for disaster, but so does rushing into marriage for the sheer sake of being married. A relationship is what you make it, and the key is to be wary of just going through the motions or making attention-getting statements ("We're meant for each other!") without digging deep as a couple, ensuring that you understand what you're getting yourselves into and why.

    6 agree
    • Statistically speaking, co-habiting relationships end more often than marriages. (In my country it is 1 out of 2 co-habiting relationships and 1 out of 3 marriages that break up). So there is something going on there.
      But remember, statistics tell you something about correlations, not necessarily causes.
      Still, I can imagine (just speculating!!!) that people who co-habitate have the tendency (so not everyone) to think less deeply about or decide more quickly on their relationship, simply because a wedding is a natural moment to think about your relationship and where it is heading. That could lead to more break-ups compared to divorces.

      2 agree
  20. I think the difference is intent. Are you moving in with someone because "that's the next step" or are you moving in with them "because as a couple we are moving our relationship into a new phase."

    Without fail I have seen relationships where the couple moves in together "because its a good idea" or "its the next step of what we do" dissolve. The couple hadn't discussed long range plans about their lives together, as a couple, before moving in.

    Couples that move in together because they decided as a couple that's where they wanted to take their relationship have fared better. I have seen those relationships stay together. They're also the ones who talked about where they want to live, what type of jobs they want in a "career", number of kids (or no kids at all), how to handle financial issues. That's not saying there aren't bumps in the road; but the foundation of how to get around the bumps are there.

    9 agree
  21. if i'd gotten married before living with someone i'd be married to an abusive asshole with a drug problem…so…yeah. living together first FTW.

    8 agree
  22. Speaking from my own experiences I think that it's perfectly fine to move in together prior to marriage and that the issue isn't so much living together but why you move in together in the first place. I think understanding the reason your choose to cohabitate is hugely important.
    My ex husband and I were roommates with two other friends during college before we were dating. Our dating relationship grew out of a fantastic friendship, however deep down I always questioned if it was a good idea. This was my first mistake. After college we both relocated to our parents and dated long distance for a year. I wanted to relocate closer to our friends and found a new job near everyone so we moved in together. Neither of us could afford to rent in the city alone. This was mistake number 2. We lived together and dated for 3 years before getting engaged and were married for just over 2 before separating. I completely blame myself for being in a relationship that my heart was never fully in, but moving intogether certainly didn't help me get out. Not so much because of the physical logistics of leaving. More because of the cultural and social logistics of building a life with our friends and family who see you as a couple in such a permanent way because you live together. Who i was became so wrapped up in us as a couple that the momentum was difficult to control. I know if we hadn't lived together we would have naturally drifted apart and back into the just friends relationship.
    So long story short… Moving in together isn't a problem but it is a big deal and that is important for people to discuss. Ask WHY you want to move in together. And WHAT if you need a break.
    As a side note, I currently live with my boyfriend. We are not engaged. But we didn't take moving in together lightly. Ive learned to control the momentum and expectations it creates.

    3 agree
  23. After 8 months, we moved in together (as vain as it sounds, it was because I had a car! He had 2 jobs and needed a lift). It was HARD. Because the man didn't like commitment, this was a hard transition. Plus, his parents hated the idea of us living together before marriage. But, I wouldn't of had it any other way. We were together for 5 years before we got engaged (we've been together for almost 9 years now!). I would of hated our first year of marriage if we waited. I'm glad we got it out of the way early!

    1 agrees
  24. I guess it depends on the value you place on marriage. I know a woman who wants to be married to her boyfriend not because this would feel right, but because they have been an item for five years, and "that is what should happen next". If marriage is one of your big goals in life – for wearing the white dress or the big party or the ring or the spiritual commitment – you will approach it differently than someone who views a fulfilling relationship as important and thinks that marriage may happen along the way to make things easier (renting, taxes, hospital decisions, kids' names, … ).

    I moved in with the BF two years ago – we are not married – but I definitely would not have married him without sharing space first. If you know each and every annoying habit of someone and still want to spend the rest of your life with that person, that's love. ^^

    (He always puts the friggin' tooth paste in the wrong spot!)

    4 agree
  25. My husband and I unintentionally did things backwards…we were "best friends with benefits" when I got pregnant (clearly, birth control is not 100% foolproof), THEN eventually we dated, moved in together, and THEN married after living together for two years. And three years and another child later, we are at our strongest, and still best friends. For us, living together first worked to our benefit. Since my pregnancy was so unexpected, I wanted to be absolutely sure that if our relationship progressed, it was for the right reasons and not because of pressure or moral obligation. I think so many people fall prey to some unfounded ideal of the institution of marriage…IMHO friendship and trust are the keys to a successful relationship. Legal marriage is just a formality.

    3 agree
    • This is 100% true and needs to be taught as curriculum in schools. I spent a good deal of time in our relationship worried about the social and legal views of our relationship and it took my FH to bring back down to earth and make sure that we worked as friends and partners before he was ready to pop the question. Even if he hadn't, I still would have stayed with him, and all because he worked to make sure that we had the right kind of relationship.

      1 agrees
  26. We'd pretty much shared spaces and chores and money to a certain extent for two years in college before actually moving in with each other. So when we got engaged at graduation it made total sense to move in with each other right away rather than waiting until after the wedding a year or so later. It more felt like we were losing 4 roommates (1 from my place, 3 from his) than anything else. It would have been even more depressingly lonely, not to mention unnecessarily expensive had we lived in different places.

    About the only thing that we had to work out was how to buy and cook food without prepaid campus cafeteria meals for lunches and sharing with 6+ people on random schedules for the other two meals.

    2 agree
  27. Statistics like these tell you, at best, the risk factors of your choices. A risk is not a sentence. If 50% of pre-wedding cohabitation marriages end in divorce, that also means 50% succeed. I don't think anyone should take it as a judgment against their own decision. Some of the stories in the comments so far indicate that some marriages didn't work for some of the reasons mentioned in the article. But clearly others have worked and are working to this day.

    I think the big message is to move in with positive intention. Not to test each other out or to save money, but with the intention to love each other as well as you can for as long as you can, even–or especially–if you have no interest in marriage.

    1 agrees
  28. My husband and I got married after dating for 7 years, 5 of which had been spent living together. We're coming up on our 2nd wedding anniversary and I can say that our relationship has never been stronger or more stable, even though these have been very tough years (due to the economy). For us it was the right decision because we learned a lot about how to live well together, and when we moved in together we weren't even sure that we believed in marriage. I think doing both at the same time would have been too much for us.

    I've heard those studies before, and I think I know what kind of situation they are talking about. I think they are referring to couples who begin dating and everything is great, so they move in together because things are going well and it makes economic sense. As they continue dating and living together things are still going fine, but they gradually lose their spark. There is nothing wrong with the relationship, they aren't fighting, they get along, but it's become more comfortable than passionate (or even deep), but there is never a real reason to break up. At a certain time they feel like marriage is the next logical step and it temporarily rejuvenates the relationship because of all the planning and excitement. After the honeymoon is over and the gifts are put away I think one or both of them realize that they've just made a life long commitment to someone they didn't even know they had fallen out of love with. They might still care about each other, but they've been coasting along on friendship and feeling comfortable without really making any decisions. They just let things keep snowballing until the permanence of marriage wakes them up.

    I've actually seen this happen with quite a few long term cohabitating couples. I think that as long as you're constantly checking in with each other, and yourself, to see how you feel about each other and your decisions you won't run into this problem. I think it's the couples who go, "Might as well move in together…might as well get married…oh s*#t! What have I done?!" that end up in trouble.

    5 agree
    • Yes!!! Sadly you are exactly right. It's exactly what happened to me and the reason my first marriage failed.

  29. I didn't live with my husband before we were married. I might have, but I was living in San Jose and he was in San Diego, and at the time my job had told me I wouldn't be able to work remotely once I moved, so I needed to save as much money as possible before moving in with my student husband. From deciding to be exclusive to our wedding was less than a year (though we'd known each other for a few years as friends when I'd lived in SD), so it all moved pretty quickly.

    Our third anniversary is in August, and it's been fantastic. I honestly don't see how it could have been any better living together before the wedding. Sure, we had a couple fights over stupid things in the first year, but that's not a big deal. In fact, I think it was easier, because we were always starting from a place where we had already committed to working it out. There was no problem we weren't going to figure out. And when you know where you're going, it's just a matter of finding the right route to get there.

    • I just read this after I posted. The concept of "starting from a place where we had already committed to working it out," really resonates with me. I think this would be the main argument for not living together before marriage (forget about divorce statistics). Like I said, no "testing."

      • You can do this without having to get married. My ex and I moved in together for convenience reasons, and it didn't work out. Deep down I wasn't committed, and looking back I am really glad that things ended when they did. With my husband, we had this moment, weeks after we started seeing each other where we committed. It was 5 years after we'd become friends, a few months before we would move in together, 4 years before we'd be able to get married, and 6 before we would be expecting our first. The only thing we did "quickly" was move in together, but we have been committed from the beginning. It wasn't testing things out, though if we weren't compatible living together, we'd have had some thinking to do.

  30. I am personally struggling with this decision right now. My man and I have been together for about 15 months and our leases run out in August. He wants to move in then, I do not.

    We have already talked about getting married to each other. We know how many kids we each want. We know what we value in terms of how to handle money and we are transparent with each other about how much savings/debt we each have. I know that he leaves the cap of the toothpaste, he knows that I get the bathroom all wet when I shower.

    We have established this relationship without living together. I am in agreement with the poster above that I resent the concept of "testing" a relationship before marriage by living together. We are testing it now. By the time we move in together I want our relationship to be solid enough that no amount of dirty dishes could break it up.

    Most of my friends have lived together before marriage. Many people close to us, including my sister with whom I now live, thinks we should just do it. My parents are very Catholic and adamantly against pre-marriage cohabitation.

    I feel that I just need some time. We will probably live together before marriage. I see that step as making our life-long commitment to each other. So does he. I'm just not quiet ready.

    Sorry for the ramble, I guess my main point is that, unless your relationship is long distance, you can find out all of the "deal breakers" before actually living together. I think to build a solid, forever relationship the step of moving in should be given as much weight as getting married.

    • As with pretty much anything, this is definitely a person-to-person thing. Neither my FH nor I are religious people, but if that resonates strongly with you, follow it. If 15 months of knowing him isn't long enough for you, than stand your ground. To have a strong relationship takes two strong people.

      The biggest thing I was driving at is that, if we had never moved in together, I wouldn't have known a lot of his quirks and he wouldn't have known mine. We weren't in situations that allowed for sleepovers as we were both living with our parents. It seems like you have a lot of those quirks well in hand, so you're on the right path!

      1 agrees
  31. I recognize that other people have formed successful marriages after cohabitation, but I don't think that it would have worked for my wife and me.

    The NYT article says that cohabitation can constitute "sliding, not deciding." Cohabitation is ambiguous. What does it mean for the relationship? What commitments does it entail? Our (U.S., at least) culture is unclear on the subject.

    When my wife and I married, we were making a major life decision and committing to it publicly and privately. Thanks to norms in our culture and our conversations, we understood the obligations that marriage entailed. There were some ambiguities, but far fewer than those present in cohabitation.

    Many commenters have said that correlation does not equal causation. This is true, but overstated. It is better to say that correlation does not necessarily indicate causation, but correlation may be taken as evidence toward a conclusion of causation.

    Consider these two statements:
    1. Human produced carbon dioxide levels increase.
    2. Global temperatures increase.

    There is correlation here. Should we not take it as evidence toward a conclusion of causation?

    1. Various couples cohabitate, or not.
    2. Those that cohabitate are more likely to get divorced.

    There is correlation here. Should we not take it as evidence toward a conclusion of causation?

    • This is a good exploration of cohabitation. There was definitely a point in my relationship with my partner that we were sort of sliding. We weren't making any decisions, just shuffling along to the next step.

      Honestly, I think finally getting married (after six years of living together) saved our relationship. It made us make committed decisions again.

    • Correlation often denotes that more studies are necessary before drawing a conclusion. Global warming is a heavily studied phenomenon that isn't just based off of correlation.

      A great example of this is that crime goes up as ice cream sales increase. Ice cream does not cause crime, but more crime is committed in hot weather, something that also causes an increase in ice cream sales. Sure, the two co-vary and thus have a relationship, but one does not cause the other.

      However, I think your point still stands. Saying something is related can mean that they co-vary and have a common cause In this case, I would theorize that it's not being traditional in how you view relationships. I would be more likely to move in with someone or get divorced than a similar woman who is Catholic and has a different perspective on relationships.

    • PS – I completely agree with you on the idea that making a commitment and having a shared understanding of what that looks like is essential to success. I also think often people move in together without really talking about that.

    • I think the key part of what you said is that people don't take the time fully consider what they're doing before they do it. That's more important than anything a study could ever tell you.

      I'm a big fan of correlation does not equal causation, because often, the results of a study only look at one or two factors and not the full picture. What *type* of people are the people who divorce after cohabitating? What stage of their lives were they at? If you took a sample of the general population, you're going to get a mixed bag of all kinds of background, which is the biggest factor. The pressures of society, especially family, can make or break a relationship if they try to push the relationship too far too fast. We like to believe we're all adults and we make our decisions, but if Mom starts nagging you about getting married and telling you all sorts of things about how your partner doesn't love you because they haven't proposed yet, it gets under your skin. Not that, uh, I have any experience with that or anything. >_>

      2 agree
  32. Part of the rub with cohabitation is that sometimes couples move in with each other at young ages and don't take the time to "become themselves" before becoming a pair, home and all. I don't think it has anything to do with how good or how irritating a roommate a partner is; if you are developed, mature, and strong enough to choose marriage separately, I don't think "testing the water" changes the water for better or worse. Couples who live together have a harder time severing ties and moving on from a difficult or destructive relationship; some of them probably go on to work out their relationships, some of them finally separate, but many of them go into the higher statistic demonstrating that cohabitation leads to divorce more often than living separate before marriage.

    3 agree
    • Yes! There are some great comments on this thread, but this is the first one I noticed that mentioned the importance of developing a strong sense of self before living with someone else. Becoming too enmeshed as a "half of a pair", hindering your own development, is the only drawback I can see to moving in together. I am moving in with my boyfriend next month, and I am personally committed to remaining a "whole person." That means having my own interests and getting out a lot – not just being all couple-y all the time and hanging out only with him because it's comfortable and familiar. Being "half of a pair" totally ruined my last relationship.

      2 agree
  33. My husband and I were actually roommates (two of three) first, and having all sorts of emotionally unhealthy sex before we started dating and procreating and eventually marrying. (Disclaimer: There's a little more than four years from roommates to marriage there.) Which is generally a terrible plan, but somehow worked for us. We're now a functional, happy married couple. I think living together (alone) helped us know each other and our indiosyncradacies before we were committed until death do us part. (Bonus: we probably wouldn't have had our son if we hadn't been living together. That child is totally a bored-in-the-afternoon conception.)

    However, there's this: I have known friends that have broken up after moving in together because they drove each other nuts in a way that wouldn't have happened unless they moved in together.

    So much that. I have two friends who went off to grad school and moved in with their long term boyfriends. One of the couples broke up, got back together, got engaged, then broke up again. They didn't know how poorly they cohabitated until they lived together. And while it's awful, I think it would have been a sadder story if they'd made that discovery after marriage.

    2 agree
    • yay! my partner and I were also 2 out of 3 roomates (although we had a serious relationship talk before we commenced sleeping together) and its great to hear of another solid roommate to relationship couple. Everyone said it was a terrible idea and maybe it was but its worked out great.

  34. These kinds of studies have always bothered me a bit because they seem to forget that people who are interested in living together before marriage are maybe a bit less traditional and therefore more likely to get divorced if they are unhappy. Divorce isn't the worst thing that can happen to a couple. Staying together miserably certainly is.

    Both my husband and I were raised to live together before marriage. I think our grandparents didn't like it much, but our parents were very supportive. For us, it didn't make a big difference. We'd been friends for years and so when we started dating, we moved in together right away, then jointly started saving for an engagement ring and the wedding, while I finished university. For us, this was the right choice. Maybe it's not for others, but I'd argue strongly in favour of living together before marriage. I'd encourage my kids to live with someone before getting marrying them, just as I'd also encourage them to get married (or in some way solidify their relationship publicly), because for us, it was different (in a subtle but great way) after we got married. I lived with someone else and living together was a bit part of me realizing that we weren't compatible.

    • The fact you were encouraged to live together speaks volumes about your family environment. Having the support of people that you trust is a key factor in getting out of a bad relationship. If we only listen to ourselves, we don't think hard enough about things, but if we have someone at our backs (who we are willing to trust and listen to) can keep us from sliding into a bad deal marriage and getting a divorce when it all falls apart.

  35. Now-husband and I moved in 6 months after our first date (and we only waited so long because we didn't want to TOTALLY rush things). We're in our second year of marriage and it only gets better every day. (It's both of our first marriages but not co-habitations.)

    My curiosity on this study is piqued… IMHO something so personal or intimate really differs with individuals, and generalizing "studies" like this are pretty bogus/inconclusive, as far as being applicable to women and men of all age groups and lifestyles.

    Maybe the study was on couples of a certain age group, lifestyle, or who've never co-habited or married before. Did it specify?

    1 agrees
  36. What about couples who get married and live separately? No one ever seems to mention them…

    Viking and I were together for two years before we moved in together, and then we lived together for two years, and now we're living apart for another two in a long distance relationship. Oddly, for me, it wasn't the moving in together that was a test of our relationship, but the living apart. We're going to get married. Barring drastic and horrible personality/life goal changes, Viking is my forever, and we've known that almost since we got together. We've been through some shit. But I needed to know that I can, in fact, function without him for me to be totally happy living with him for the rest of our lives.

    In an absolutely ideal world, though, I will at least have my own room. Or possibly we'll have connecting houses. Because there's only so many car parts scattered throughout the living room I can take.

    1 agrees
  37. Personally I am very glad and grateful that my husband and I lived together before we got married. I couldn't imagine it any other way. I did, however, know that I wanted to marry him before we moved in together. We also dated for 2 years before living together. When I moved to his city (for several reasons, not just to be with him) many people were surprised I didn't move in with him right away. I called them crazy! I wanted some time in the same city to see how that went before jumping into co-habitating. But, we each lived with friends only a block apart and spent every night together anyway. But it was nice to slowly grow closer, and get used to each other rather than diving right in. By the time we moved in together, we were more than ready, and were basically just sick of having to cart our things back and forth from one house to the other.

  38. I live in Utah where the culture here generally frowns on cohabitation (let alone sex) before marriage. I've been told by acquaintances and even some friends that more people get divorced when they have lived together before marriage than couples who get married and then live together. I see their point, but they don't get where I'm coming from.
    Honestly, I feel that living with my boyfriend would just help us make sure we really want to get married someday. We can iron out our bad habits and learn to live with the person we love peacefully so that when we do get married we already know how to live with each other.

    Thank you for posting this, it makes me feel better about our decision to live together when I hear opposition left and right.

  39. I think its interesting how living together just seems like the normal thing to do these days.

    I dated a guy for 1 year in LA (met at a bar), 1 year long distance (he begged me to move in with him that whole year). The first year of living together was with 4 other people, second year, our own apartment. Being just the two of us showed him that he didn't love me as much as he thought. It was a devastating breakup to me but easy to disentangle; only took a month. We never spoke of marriage or anything like that and it was more of a lets see what happens sort of thing.

    My next relationship was with a friend I'd known for years. It started with 1 year of dating (he asked me to move in with him after 3 months and I said no). Then I moved in once he bought a house. Even though there hadn't been a specific conversation, there was a more long term feeling about the whole thing. We lived together for another year before he proposed, were engaged for another year and half, and have been married for almost 3 years now.

    I don't think I would have seen true value of the relationships had I not cohabitated. But that's just me (and a lot of others apparently..)

  40. When we told my husband's (then boyfriend's) grandmother we were moving in together, she told us the story of her marriage: She met her husband because his family knew hers (and had come from nearby towns in Italy), and he ended up taking hours of public transit from new jersey to yonkers every time he wanted to see her. He proposed after six months (tired of going back and forth) and they married soon after.
    She told us that in her day they had family to help you decide if you were getting to know the real person your spouse-to-be was, and that these days the only way to have that kind of certainty was living together. She was all for it.

    Of course, part of her probably knew that we were madly in love and destined to marry. We dated long-distance three months, lived together 6 weeks before getting engaged, then married six months afteater that!

  41. Well, considering that I can't legally get married in the majority of the United States, and I don't particularly feel like faking it with a man, I am all for cohabitating. I like the pillow in the picture, but I will be "living in sin" no matter what I do, so I won't be making one for myself anytime soon. XD

    2 agree
  42. This is an interesting topic, and I think it's totally different for each person. My fiance and I lived together for a year before we got engaged. Before we moved in together, we sat down and had a heart-to-heart about the fact that we both knew we were moving towards marriage, and that moving in together was a step on that path. For us, that year was basically a transition period of getting to know each other on an even more intimate level.

    I lived with an ex boyfriend previously. In that case, we moved in together when I was 19 because I coaxed him into it… and, as much as I hoped and dreamed and whined, that guy had no intentions to keep me around forever. We lived together for three years before I finally admitted it to myself, moved out, and moved to another country to rediscover myself outside of that relationship.

    So, yeah… I think a lot of it has to do with your intentions when you move in together. Are you moving in together as a step on the path to marriage? Or are you moving in together because it's convenient, to save money, or because maybe it will make your significant other finally decide you're the one? It's a BIG difference.

  43. I am of the opinion that if you move in together to "test" how well you work, then you shouldn't move in together at all. After all, if you are feeling doubtful enough that you have to "test" things out, then you aren't meant for each other. Gut feelings are around for a reason.

    1 agrees
    • Not all of us are good at gut feelings. I knew, in my gut, that I was going to marry my high school boyfriend, but he didn't want that. Then I knew, in my gut, that I was going to marry my FH, but he was more leary. Moving in, for him, was a chance for us to build a relationship that was wholly ours, without the outside chatter of our families, and for him to see all sides of me. For me, it was a chance to work through my trust issues (it's much easier to learn to trust a person who comes home to you every night) and to work through the personality differences.

  44. Husband and I did NOT live together before marriage out of CHOICE (I think I'm the first commenter to say that). Our decision was informed by our faith and strong convictions. That same shared faith and convictions are the bedrock of our marriage. Pre marital counselling was invaluable, as is open and honest communication now. Many of our friends have done it this way too and are very happily married still. But I think that may have more to do with attitudes and values regarding matrimony.

    I like the way we chose to do it and I think everyone has the capacity to do it too, but I also respect that most people choose differently to us and do not share the same beliefs regarding marriage.

    1 agrees
    • You aren't the first person to mention that and I applaud you for standing by your convictions. Neither FH nor I are religious in any aspect of our relationship, but I fully respect your decision to make that choice and stand by it. It takes two strong adults to have a strong relationship and knowing yourself against all others is key to being a strong adult.

  45. Personally I think this is another case of humanity wanting to believe there are clear, logical rules to life, that if you do X then Y will happen. But it's life, it doesn't work like that. There are a thousand and one variables and factors that come into play and one couples experience will never apply exactly to another couple because they will have different variables.

    It's nice to think that if you do everything "right" and follow "the rules" then your relationship will work out. I once saw a woman on a forum proudly proclaiming that she and her boyfriend had agreed to wait until she turned 25 to get engaged because statistics say you're less likely to break up if you're over 25.

    Whereas I suspect the trick, if there is one, is to do what's right for you. The hard part is knowing what that is.

    But one thing I really don't understand – if two people get married having never lived together and then break up no one is going to say getting married was the problem – they say they got married for the wrong reasons, or rushed into it. Why can't the same be true for couples who co-habited first? It's not living together, or getting married, that caused them to break up, it's doing it for the wrong reasons.

    (Although, the only thing 100% of divorcees have in common is marriage. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    4 agree
  46. I have no words for how proud this forum-post-turned-blog-post makes me of our community. I wish I could edit it so I can add some of the best of your comments, because everyone's view points need to be heard.

    I hope everyone that read the post went on to read the comments, because the biggest takeaway from all of the comments needs to be this: Know Thyself and Do What You Need to Do – but also remember that it takes two strong people to make a relationship and your partner is a person, so respect their viewpoints as well. Important Talks may be in order to get it all hashed out.

    If you are a person who has strong convictions of faith, then let those guide you and serve you in your relationship. You will be better for it, I promise.

    If you are someone who knows that you need to work through personality issues or trust issues, figure out the way that works best for you to work those out. The more time you spend together, the better you know a person and the better a person knows you. If you can't do sleepovers, maybe you need to sit down with a member of your partners family or circle of friends and ask out right (but politely) for the full skinny.

    In my own personal journey with the person I'm going to marry, moving in together allowed me the chance to work through some serious trust issues as well as some serious personal viewpoint issues*. It also helped him to know me better and to know, without a doubt, that he wants to build a family together, which is hugely important (see Respecting Your Partner, above).

    These were all awesome comments and I can't wait to read more! Now maybe I should back to doing some work. ๐Ÿ˜›

    *(FYI, just because he didn't do the dishes doesn't mean it's because he expects you, the woman, do to all the housework. He could just be spacey and got really involved doing dungeon crawls for new gear for his warlock.)

    4 agree
  47. All articles about relationship trends or offering relationship advise should come with a disclaimer that all relationships are different.

    It's up to the people involved in the relationship to hash out their rules and decide what will work for them. I think going through that process is what strengthens a relationship.

    1 agrees
    • Unfortunately I feel like a lot of relationship advice articles want to do the exact opposite. They always seem to have headlines like "The 10 things you're doing wrong in your relationship" or "5 ways to make her love you" or whatever. As if all people, and therefore all relationships are identical and can be summed up in bulletpoint form.

      I suppose it's necessary, if you're trying to sell relationship advice (or give it away to sell advertising space) you don't really want to be telling your readers that none of it necessarily applies to them. But it is a pain in the arse.

  48. Wow…there are a lot of comments here and I'll admit, I only read about the first half until I scrolled down to comment myself. I apologize if I'm repeating anyone.

    I am not here to be judgmental. I know plenty of people who have lived together and made it work for a lifetime (getting married or not) and those who figured out that their partner was not livable. I also knows those who did not live together and some stayed married while others didn't, so I'll totally agree that there can be no blanket statement.

    I personally don't agree with living together before marriage and this is why:

    Too many people use it as a gauge of "can I live with this person on a day to day basis". I get that reasoning. However, I totally believe in the idea that if you love them it is because you CHOOSE to love them and put up with their idiosyncrasies and bad habits. Does it drive me crazy that my husband still will not put up his shoes after wearing them and leaves them all over the house? Yes…that truly drives me crazy even after being married to him for almost 11 years. But I choose to love him and get over that quirk. I can ask him to change his habit but if he chooses not to, I have to decide which is more important – his shoes or our relationship. I choose the relationship every single time. He gets tired of my hair being all over the bathroom (I swear to him every time that it is not intentional) but he chooses to love me more than disliking my hairs' ability to travel great distances on its own.

    Yes this means there are fights, disagreements, differences of opinions, loud sighs, and even some eye-rolling (which makes me want to smack him) from time to time. But we get over it. We love each other more than that. We choose to make our relationship more important.

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I believe in not overemphasizing small issues and working through the big ones. So if I love someone to commit myself to them regardless of their annoying habits, I don't see a problem in waiting until your married to work those things through.

    2 agree
    • Absolutely! I don't get the moving in together to test to see if you're ready for marriage, or to get used to each other before you get married. Short of abuse, infidelity, or lying, if you love someone you'll learn how to work out anything with them. If you don't know someone well enough to know that you love them and will deal with whatever they are really like day-to-day, then why would even need to test the relationship by living together?

      Also, what I think is related, is that as others pointed out, the relationship isn't any different the day after the wedding than it was the day before, so why is it important to be used to living together before versus after? You have the rest of your lives to adjust to each other after the wedding day too. I understand wanting to start getting used to each other sooner rather than later, but not it's somehow possible to be used to each by a certain date to be ready to get married.

      That all said, I lived with my ex-fiance, and the reason co-habitation ended in a breakup (fortunately just before we were going to send out the wedding invites), was that he went into it seeing it as a test, to find out what I was "really" like and if he loved me enough to make up for whatever he would find out, and I saw it as we're already committed, so why not start the rest of our lives now, while we're planning the wedding. I wasn't willing to live together until we were engaged, though, and for me at least, living together was a very deliberate decision.

      Deliberate decision + both of you doing it for the same reasons = success, in my opinion.

    • Kaye, I do agree with you on many levels. I also recognise a lot of myself in your "what is more important" thought process! (Though I'm co-habiting, not married.)

      But just as I counter-example, I thought I should add that not all "testing" is just about annoying habits etc. I've worked for services that are connected, in part, to domestic abuse services. More than once, I've come across cases where domestic abuse didn't happen until the couple were moved in or married (because of the greater control the abusive partner was able to have, I suppose).

      Not to suggest AT ALL that this is likely to happen – but just putting it out there that sometimes the negatives of moving in with someone can be very serious indeed.

  49. I moved in with my (now ex) husband because I really had no other choice. I had a nightmare living situation that ended abruptly, and I literally had no place else to go…so I moved in with him. And it was obvious to me then that it was not completely what he wanted. It felt rushed and like I was backed into a corner, and even though we lived together for 6 years before we married, there was always in the back of my mind a feeling of being forced into a situation that wasn't ideal. And yes, we got married because "it's what grownups do", mostly due to pressure from his family. So, yeah, living together we learned about one another and how to compromise over space etc, but there was also a kind of pressure to "make it legal" as some kind of logical inevitable next step. Needless to say, it did not last, and moving out and ending things legally was a serious bitch.

    I currently live with my partner, which was a decision we made not because we had to but because we actually wanted to share our lives that way. It feels much different, even though I moved into his home and learning to blend our lives was hard work. Relationships are work, and I think that's one of the things that makes them end sometimes when two people decide to "play house" together. They aren't thinking realistically about the fact that their beloved stinks up the bathroom and leaves the dirty dishes in the sink for the cats to lick clean. If you have romantic illusions about your lover, living together can sometimes shatter them.

    We aren't planning on getting married any time soon, officially, but if we do I feel that our living together as a conscious choice and blending our lives the way we have is a good thing. We plan on being together for the long haul because we want to, not because we feel pressured or have no other options. Also, if we ever do get married, I need for someone to make us that pillow, please.

  50. I lived with my husband for 5 years before we got married. The first three years of that were also spent living with my parents… It was all extremely weird but made every lick of sense at the time, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I honestly feel like a lot more relationships would work out/end before they got too far if people had to have their dates at their family's homes. You can't lie or be anything but yourself in front of your family, and yet you still manage to bring out all your best there, somehow.

    As for the cohabitation… Well, we're only one year in to the wedding now, but there's no shaking in this boat yet. But my husband and I both entered our relationship not expecting the other person to be anything but themselves, before OR after marriage. And I think leaving your expectations behind at the door is the most important thing anybody can do in a relationship. You can keep your standards, of course, but ditch those preconceived notions of what your significant other should or shouldn't be until after you've met him/her.

  51. I read an article once about cohabitation before marriage, and the research in the study indicated that it makes a difference why people decide to cohabitate and what their intentions are for the relationship. If they intend to get married when they decide to cohabitate, it tended to work out much better. The couples who decided to get married after they'd been living together had higher divorce rates. I don't remember much about the groups of people involved in the research. I keep picturing kids right out of college deciding to shack up to avoid paying two rents.

    1 agrees
  52. Four years ago I pressured my boyfriend to move in with me after we graduated college. I was angry when he chose to move back in with his mom rather than with me. And I am so glad he did! We broke up a few months later and sorted out our issues separately. We got back together, stronger than ever, got engaged, and then moved in together. We are now very happily married. I guess I just wasn't taking cohabitation seriously enough the first time around.

  53. My partner and I are engaged and moving in together next February when his current lease runs out, which will be about one year and three months before the wedding. The only reason we're waiting so long to get married is money, but since we can afford to move out we don't want money stopping us doing that too. I'm sick of living with my parents and can't wait to be a cohabitor!

  54. In my college sociology class (just a couple years ago) we discussed this topic and how cohabitating can be a predictor of divorce ONLY if the people moved in together before being truly committed to each other. Also moving in together to "test" the relationship will often have a negative effect.

  55. Hubbs and I didn't live together before we got hitched.

    It was the right decision for us. We have very different sleeping/eating/cleaning habits. So sometimes it's a challenge but it's been a fun challenge. I wouldn't have changed the way we have done this at all.

  56. I'm of the opinion, that whether you cohabitate first or not, the true danger lies in expecting marriage to change something fundamental about the relationship. I've seen divorces result from this both in couples that had lived together first and in those that hadn't, but anyone who thought their spouse would magically quit doing one thing or start doing another was horribly and sometimes irreparably disappointed. So cohabitation has little to do with it for me, rather it's the expectations inherent in some people's vision of marriage.

    1 agrees
  57. I don't think my now-husband and I would have made it if we DIDN'T live together before we got married. We definitely did the "right" thing as far as discussing why we wanted to live together, already being a very stable and comfortable couple, and all that. BUT, adjusting to living together was one of the most difficult things we've been through as a couple. We fought more that first year than we ever had before or ever have since. Knowing that it was a choice we were making to stay and make it work, versus a means to avoid the legal mess of a divorce, made us fight harder for our relationship. If I had felt bound there legally instead of by my own love for my partner, I would have been angry and bitter and probably not tried anywhere near as hard to work with him to make the compromises our relationship needed us both to make. I would have felt like I was doing it for the wrong reasons and hated myself and him for it.

    1 agrees
  58. "I have known friends that have broken up after moving in together because they drove each other nuts in a way that wouldn't have happened unless they moved in together."

    This is exactly why I had a problem with the article. I've lived with a few different partners in the past, and with the last one in particular I don't think we would have realized how wrong we were for each other had we not lived together. My current boyfriend and I are living together, and this has solidified our relationship. It has magnified the ways we are compatible (whereas in past relationships it magnified the way we weren't).

  59. We have effectively been living together for a year and officially for 7 months, and been engaged for 6 and a half. I may be wrong in this, but personally it feels like us getting married is more us recognising what our relationship is and making that public – if we weren't getting married we would still be committed for life.

    From the article it looks like this phenomenon is a result of poor communication between partners – if you don't talk about what you want, how you feel about your relationship, how to build on or reinforce what you've got, how to solve problems, then you're going to have problems keeping your marriage going. In our relationship, our living arrangments evolved gradually but always with serious and open discussion – it may have looked like "sliding" but it was definitely "deciding". And that's why I'm confident that we will make the best we can of our marriage.

  60. My boyfriend and I were just talking about this last night (we've been dating for 3.5 years and living together for 1, we plan to get married after/at the end of grad school). He had read an article that listed "cohabitation before marriage" as one of the 10 biggest mistakes people make in their twenties. I completely disagree with that stance, and it totally depends on the relationship you have. Thanks for this article and for all the comments, you all are saying exactly what I believe to be true! And now I have statistics on my side!

  61. I feel strongly about living together before marriage, though I can't speak for everyone, but it is working greatly for me and my fiance. We've grown closer and dealt with many issues while living together, I can't imagine what it would have been like to be newlyweds and trying to figure out how to live together.

  62. My husband and I did not live together until after we were married. (We're super old-fashioned in some ways; we didn't have sex before we were married, either.) We've been happily married for 2.5 years now. I don't care one way or the other about how folks choose to prepare for their marriage, but I really don't understand this idea that you won't know each other well enough if you don't live together. Is being surprised a problem? I hope we go our entire lives growing and learning new things about one another. Something as basic as toilet habits isn't going to break your marriage if you're committed to staying together. It's important to do your homework, but equally important to be willing to embrace the new.

    1 agrees
    • I'm so glad you posted that. I'm planning on waiting until I marry to have sex, and honestly, to go by responses of friends and posts like this, it apparently means there's something wrong with me.

      My brother and his wife waited to move in together until they were married, and it seems to have really strengthened their relationship – learning how to communicate over things like washing the dishes while still in that "honeymoon" stupid-in-love phase helped them deal with real issues later.

  63. You may think Im crazy– BUTTTT I opted to live with my boyfriend, for the past 4 years, we are not married, and are not even thinking about it…the way we see it is "public, documented marriage" is strictly for the papers, and how we will file taxes… marriage doesnt mean better health care for us… in fact, we would be MORE poor if we got married. I love this man, I always will, regardless of waking up every morning to a turd in the toilet (no lie) and his beer cans half drank all over the counter. If I got married and then moved in, I'd die. I had to learn him, and he had to learn me…. We even decided to have our first child before we got married. Marriage is (I think like you do) superficial. We love each other the same as we would if we had 10 grand to spend on a giant party with dresses and suits. Id rather have the 10 grand as a down payment on a house rather than a wedding… Weddings are a luxury in this day and time.

  64. I am pretty sure I my husband and I would have killed one another if we had not lived together before getting married. He and I have been together almost six years, living together for about four. It was a huge adjustment. He is a neat freak and I am a walking tornado of clutter and disaster. Beyond that though, living together has made us learn how to deal with one another. How when he's upset, he needs space. Or when I am having issues with my depression I clean like a fiend. He wouldn't know that a sparkling clean residence of mine was a sign that I am having a hard time dealing with life and probably need someone to notice. Of course you learn those things after you move in after marriage as well, but I can forsee it being a lot more difficult.

  65. I believe cohabitating would have helped my mother in her first marriage. She has always kept her past close to her, but from what she has told me her first husband was very emotionally abusive. When they were married she was 26 and moved out of my grandparents house after the wedding. I think had they cohabitated prior to getting married, this may have been realized before making a legal step of commitment. Seeing how that emotional abuse affects her even today makes me wish cohabitating hadn't been so taboo with my grandparents when she was married. I love them, but they make sidelong comments occasionally about my boyfriend and I living together. I merely remind them that we did make a commitment when we decided to live together and it's working out well.

  66. My fiance and I have lived together before, and we're saving up for a flat so we can live together again. We did slide into living together, but for us that was less of a "this just sort of happened" and more of a "this happened organically and was beautiful for it" situation. Personally I don't think it was necessarily better than waiting, but we're happier when we're together so for us it makes sense. I really think blanket statements about what works best in relationships are worth a grain of salt. Every individual is different, every relationship is different, and so every situation has its own best approach.

  67. Maybe I'm naive, or maybe just incredibly blessed. It's so strange to hear some of you talk about facing "make or break" situations before marriage and successfully navigating them, but also being glad there was no concrete committment until after the difficult circumstance. My husband and I were only engaged for one month, (no, we weren't pregnant, and no we didn't live together before we were married) and in that month, my husband was diagnosed with a rare eye disorder that threatened to take his eyesight. Thankfully, he responded well to treatment, and barely notices the holes in his vision now. I mention all that to say that I married him anyway. I married him even in the face of uncertainty. The uncertainty of his vision, and of what this would mean to our life together. And had he lost his vision I would have stayed. Because I committed to him. Marriage is a commitment. For better or worse. Period.

    It is foolish to enter into a cohabitation situation thinking all the issues would come out before you have to make a commitment, because in a sense you already have. Do you think a split is less emotionally damaging than a divorce just because there is no paperwork?

    Having a clear cut commitment at the beginning of married life is a glue that holds the two of you together through the make it or break it challenges. There is no magic person, there is no "meant to be" relationship. Love is a choice, and couples CAN make it work…if they are both committed to it beyond all circumstances. But love like that take lots of guts.

    2 agree
  68. My husband and i moved in only after 4 months of dating (we lived 200 miles apart). I would not trade that decision for the world! It was a shock to many of our friends and family since it was a very "out-of-character" decisions we made. However, it was the right thing to do. We decided that we did love each other already and if we were going to date it meant we were potential wife and husband, so we decided that moving in together would give our relationship a fighting chance (since we both had had long-distance relationships in the past that failed miserably). It turned out to be the best decisions we ever made. We DID get married and are currently happily married, no regrets and we have married people problems just like everyone else. I think that should definitely be a concern for those who are wanting to move in together, potential marriage/life commitment.

    1 agrees
  69. My bf & I have been datin on & off for 4years. Since the year started we've been talkin about marriage. We're both ready for it and there are so many things to consider esp since we're nt living together. He's 24 & I'm 22. He works & I'm still lookin for a job (I'm living off my pension fund which pays almost as much as his salary & until I'm 25) Recently I feel like he's been hinting of a "possible proposal". He told me that he wants to "grow old with me" & that I have "good qualities" that he admires & makes me "wife" material and dat "life is short to be interested in other ppl when u've got someone right in front of u" (his words). I pretended like I didnt notice his "hints" as I cud be jst imagining it. My gut/instincts tell me it myt happen soon (b4 da year ends fingers crossed). My plan is "when" he does decide to propose.. I'd want to be engaged for a year b4 plannin our "wedding". I dnt intend to move in with him until we're married, but if he wants me to move in I would do it. Is it weird to not rush into "moving in together" once we're engaged and waiting for a year b4 getting married?

  70. I have been reading the comments here and thinking about how to respond as a person who does think that you should get married before living together. Disclaimers: I am a Christian so that does influence my beliefs here.

    First to address the idea of sin and judgment. The picture at the top says, "Living in sin no more," and the author's question is, "Will living together before marriage ruin your relationship?" The underlying assumptions behind these questions are more about the effects of sin rather than a question about causes of a ruined relationship.

    To clarify, sin does not always "ruin" things. For example, sometimes people lie but there is no discernible negative effect. It is the same with relationships. I believe that God designed relationships to follow a natural order. So the closer you get to someone, the more you will have feelings of love for that person, and the more you will join lives with that person by living together, making commitments, sharing money, having kids together etc. The fact that you have not made a lifelong commitment to each other will not have a significant impact on the relationship. The relationship can be impacted by other things such as not being honest about feelings, having different values (household responsibilities count here), or hardships.

    The reason that people use the word "sin" is because they misunderstand what sin means. To sin means to miss the mark. It means our relationships are a little off from what they were meant to be. As a result of having logical and rational minds, we can make lifelong commitments to other humans as an act of selflessness. Since God makes that commitment to love us first (regardless of whatever he would find out by living with us) he wants us to give that same gift to other humans. Since I know that God loves me regardless of my flaws, I am able to extend that love to my husband. And here's my main point: No one is telling you to make that lifelong commitment of marriage before cohabiting. The only people who are supposed to do this are people who follow Christ.

    Naturally a lifelong commitment of marriage will be a natural part of a healthy human relationship, but the timing only matters to those who believe in Christ.

    For Christians, the act of committing for life in marriage before having sex or living together is viewed as an ultimate sacrifice of selflessness. If you already know all the flaws and have worked through the hardships, marriage is just the outcome of a relational negotiation. You have negotiated that both of you agree that your relationship is beneficial to both parties.

    Now to address the problems with this viewpoint. Imperfect humans get it wrong still. Do people get married to the wrong people? Yes, absolutely, but I can't say that I believe cohabitation truly changes anything in this area. My reasoning comes from kids. Lots of people have kids and kids usually decrease satisfaction in life. However, most people don't suddenly reject their kids when they find out that their kid has an issue. The reason? Because they are committed to loving their kid. Maybe a weak example because parental relationships are different but I believe that commitment can be stronger than problems. And since we know who we are choosing to marry we have more reason to be committed.

    Another problem: abusive relationships. Again we get it wrong but sometimes relationships are ruined by things outside of our commitments. This does not make the commitment wrong, it just makes it an oxymoron. You cannot truly be loving someone and abusing them at the same time (or let them abuse you).

    In the end, and here's the real reason you can be mad at me and at other Christians. We're prideful. We think that for some reason if we follow the rule we'll end up getting it right. It is only by the grace of God that marriages last. And that takes humility and surrender to God daily that is not easily achieved.

    Sorry for the long post but my two main points are 1) Living together before getting married will not "ruin" your relationship and 2) Sin is not meant to point out something wrong but to encourage us to act selflessly.

    So please by all means do not worry and do not feel judged.

    "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world." John 3:17

    I have been happily married for 8 years. I wish the same and best for everyone here that has left comments. May we all learn how to love selflessly in our marriages.

  71. When I was in college my human sexuality teacher told us the divorce rate for couples that cohabitate is much higher. I immediately dismissed it. Couples who don't cohabitate are likely more religious and don't believe that divorce is an option.
    I've been with my boyfriend 9 years and cohabitated for all but 6 months of our relationship. We're happy and know what we're getting into should we ever chose to marry.

    1 agrees
    • My boyfriend basically moved in with me on the second day (and after the second "date") or our relationship. Or rather, I didn't let him go anymore ๐Ÿ˜€
      He kept paying rent for his own flat for a year or so, as a safety net. Never went back, except to pick up his stuff. We have been living together for more than 3 years, and while he doesn't want to get married (ever, so it's not because of me), he would instantly move to another country with me, which is a far greater commitment in my opinion.

      Before this relationship, I was in another relationship for nearly 6 years, 5.5 of which we lived together, and back then I though this was the man I was going to marry and have kids with – but we developed differently, and some things hadn't worked for a while (e.g. very different sleeping patterns, very different aspirations in life) and we broke up. We still get along well, and I don't regret those 6 years at all, but I'm glad that we never got married.

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