Living together before marriage is becoming more and more common. It’s now estimated that about 50% of all couples live with each other before their wedding day, which is up from just 10-15% in the 1950s (1). The question many people ask themselves when deciding whether to cohabit is, “Does living together beforehand mean the relationship will be less stable?” Is it better to live apart before marriage? Let’s find out below.
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Is Living Together Before Marriage A Good Idea?
Before we get into the benefits and drawbacks of cohabitation before marriage, let’s first address a crucial issue: what are your and your partner’s ultimate goals?
You may have already made up your mind to marry your partner, but they haven’t made a decision yet or even thought about it. This isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but having this information on the table is important. Make a list of what each of you wants out of the relationship in the end. It may be marriage, or it may be living together indefinitely. It could even be living apart from each other, as improbable as that seems.
In a sense, these goals can exist in separate spheres – marriage and living together are not the only two things you can do to secure a lifelong commitment with someone. There are other goals that can be considered in this scenario like living alone, having children, living with children from a previous relationship, living in the same home as your family or friends, etc.
Then, each of you can make a list of what you want out of these possibilities. Do this on separate sheets of paper first as it helps to lay down your ideas more clearly. Then, trade lists and discuss what’s written down. Be honest and take the time to listen to each other’s goals, no matter how out there they seem to you.
Essentially, living together before marriage gives you insight into your partner’s personality, habits, quirks, triggers, etc. Now, let’s talk about the pros of living together before marriage.
Benefits Of Living Together Before Marriage: A Stronger And Deeper Relationship
- Living together will help you better understand each other’s expectations, needs, and personalities.
- Living together will help you better understand the demands of living with another person. Cohabitation can show how each of you responds to living in the same environment and sharing the expenses and household chores. It’s an opportunity for both of you to learn about each other’s living habits and style, communication skills, and family ties.
- Living together will help you learn new things about your partner that living separately would not. You will see first-hand what makes your significant other tick! You will also begin to understand them better than before, and it will help you feel closer to them.
- Cohabitation before marriage will allow you to plan more effectively for your future as a couple. You can figure out how to divide and manage your finances as a couple. In many ways, it can also help you overcome the fear of commitment.
- Living together before marriage can help you figure out how sexually compatible you both are, which is extremely important for any long-term relationship.
- Sharing a living space before getting married can help you save money for your wedding or downpayment on a house. It can also help you pay off any loans you may have faster.
- The process of getting married is time-consuming and exhausting. There are so many things to accomplish and not enough time to do them (on top of your job and everything else you may be doing). One advantage of living together before getting married is you can plan the wedding more efficiently.
As appealing as living together before getting married sounds, there are some drawbacks to this arrangement that you must also be aware of. Learn more about them in the next section.
Drawbacks Of Living Together Before Getting Married
- It may be easy to think that living together forever will be easy, but living with someone requires compromises and patience that living separately does not. While living together can bring you closer to your partner before marriage, living in the same house might cause more problems than it’s worth and even lead to a premature end to the relationship.
- It is said that having more than one serious relationship in the past affects how likely it is that you’ll divorce if you cohabitate before marriage. If you’ve had two or more significant relationships before marriage, living together increases the risk of separation. However, the research behind this claim is not very conclusive.
- The more cohabiting partners share living expenses, the less likely they are to marry each other. Sharing living expenses looks pretty logical on paper. After all, living together does make living expenses more affordable. But, there is a price to living together: it becomes increasingly difficult to break up with your partner if you’re splitting living costs. However, the problems that you two are facing may also prevent you from taking the big marriage step. As a result, your relationship may get stuck in a limbo.
- Those who cohabitate before marriage are said to be more likely to become violent towards each other than those living together after getting married. If you’re living with your partner before marriage, it’s essential to avoid letting conflicts deteriorate into violence and abuse.
- Having friends and family “approve of” living together does not necessarily reduce the risk of separation later on because living together does not necessarily increase the quality of your communication.
Whatever the reason may be, living together can be complicated if you don’t plan for it in advance. There are many things you should consider before living together. Learn more about them in the next section.
How To Prepare For Living Together Before Marriage
- Be Clear About Your Goals: Be clear about what you ultimately want from living with your partner. Do you want it to culminate in marriage? Or do you want to just live together indefinitely? Talk about what’s important to both of you and make compromises as needed.
- Set Some Ground Rules: Create ground rules that work best for both of you. This could include things like how much space each person has, how to spend money and budget, dividing chores, living arrangements during holidays, etc. Agreeing on these things before you start living together will make your life easier.
- Communication Is Essential: Don’t assume that your partner knows what you want or how you feel. Instead, discuss issues as they come up to avoid any misunderstandings later down the line.
- Discuss Finances Regularly: This may include working out a budget that you both agree on and, if necessary, having a savings plan in place for big items. Take into account any debts each of you have and include a plan to pay them off.
- Involve Your Families Early On: Living with someone changes the dynamics of your relationship. Living together before marriage means interacting with your partner’s family to some degree. If possible, involve the families in decisions that affect you both living together. This can save you a lot of stress and frustration.
- Be Realistic About What Living Together May Lead To: Cohabiting before marriage does not guarantee a long-term commitment. For all you know, it could be like a trial period for your relationship when you both figure out it will not work out in the long run.
Living together before marriage may be a good idea if you know exactly what you want from your relationship. However, it is not for everyone, and in certain circumstances, it may increase your chances of break-up or divorce.
Living together before marriage has its advantages, like getting to know your partner and saving money on rent or mortgage payments. However, make sure to choose your living situation carefully.
Weigh the pros and cons of cohabiting with your partner before making this.
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- A Longitudinal Investigation of Commitment Dynamics in Cohabiting Relationships