Will living together before marriage ruin your relationship?

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 MoreI 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?

Comments on Will living together before marriage ruin your relationship?

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. >_>

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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..)

  16. 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!

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    • 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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.

  21. 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. 😉 )

  22. 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. 😛

    *(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.)

  23. 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.

    • 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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.

  25. 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.

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