So you’re getting married? Congratulations! This is an exciting time for you and for everyone who is important to you.
Weddings can bring out the best – and worst – in people, and certainly you’ve got a lot on your mind as the big day approaches.
One thing you might be thinking about is whether or not you should move in with your partner before you are actually married.
While it is common practice for a lot of couples to make the move prior to saying, “I do”, some still decide to wait until after they walk down the aisle.
There are a number of practical reasons why people choose not to live together before they get married and vice versa.
Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of living under the same roof before you tie the knot.
The Benefits of Living Together Before Marriage
There’s no doubt that living together helps you understand the habits of your partner in a more intimate way.
In fact, a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found that almost two-thirds of Americans saw cohabitation as a step toward marriage.
When you are dating, you don’t get to see all parts of their life.
When you go home to separate apartments at the end of the night, you miss out on what else happens when you aren’t around.
Learning how your partner spends their time when you aren’t on a date can be very telling.
What’s more, you can get an idea of what being married will be like.
You’ll be able to see how your partner spends their down time or how they get ready for work in the morning.
You might be horrified to find that they leave dirty plates all over the house once they are comfortable with you.
And while that seems like a negative factor, it really is better to know these things ahead of time.
According to Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, the best time to work on someone’s marriage is before you have one:
“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.”
Another benefit of living together is that you get to split everything (in theory).
For instance, you’ll both be able to save money on bills and expenses. This is one of the major reasons why couples decide to live together.
There’s nothing romantic about paying the utilities bill and it never dawns on a lot of people until they are staring at a bill after moving in together that this is something they need to talk about.
Living together ahead of time gives you the chance to work all of those things out without sucking the romance out of your new marriage.
Finally, the biggest benefit of living together is that you get time to decide if you want to be married to this person.
It sounds like the least romantic part of your relationship, but the truth is that who you are dating is not the person who you will be living with.
We are all different creatures in our own homes.
Living together gives you the opportunity to really get to know one another and decide if this is how you want to live and who you want to live with for the rest of your life.
The Cons of Living Together Before Marriage
While there are many benefits to living together before getting married, there are as many cons, as in consequences, to sharing a place before you get married.
And they might not be what you think.
Sure, you can expect that your relationship will change and that you might come to be annoyed with some of the things your partner does, but living together can actually negate the entire purpose of getting married.
Some couples feel like there’s no need to get married because they already live together.
Marriage is getting further and further from the minds of people who are just looking to live with someone and share their life – marriage means less to people.
So if you decide to live together before you get married, you might find that the date never gets set or that you never make decisions about the caterer or invitations because there’s no rush.
You are practically already married!
In some areas, living together for as little as six months means you are married under the eyes of the law and if you separate, you can treat it like a divorce and take half of what the other person owns.
Some studies have shown that people who move in together prior to marriage may never end up getting married.
If you worry that might happen to you, you need to have a conversation with your partner about your fears.
While living together feels like a trial run for your marriage, it can end it before it even gets started.
You might come to find that you don’t like living with this person and decide to call the whole thing off.
It’s more common than you think. Married couples are more likely to commit to their relationship than someone who isn’t married.
Also, some people tend to believe in the “cohabitation effect” – that couples who live together before marriage tend to be less satisfied with their marriages – and more likely to divorce – than couples who do not.
Studies have suggested that living together before marriage is associated with lower odds of divorce in the first year of marriage, but increases the odds of divorce in all others years tested.
However, another prominent study found that there was no longer an added risk for divorce associated with premarital cohabitation.
They concluded that the only risk was moving in together at a young age (before middle 20s) than moving in together before marriage.
If you live together for a long time before you get married – if you get married at all – you might have to talk about whether or not you are really committed to the relationships and whether marriage means to you what it means to other people.
Why You Should Live Together Before You Get Married
Gone are the days when people had to be married to live together. It’s been a long time coming, especially since it often is very expensive to live alone.
A lot of couples decide to move in together long before they even talk about marriage because of the sheer cost of living.
And it makes sense. Not only does living together help you pay the bills, it also gives you a great deal of opportunity to measure your relationship and decide if you want to take it any further.
If you are already engaged, living together can be rewarding and insightful in many ways. Here’s why you should live together before you get married, or even engaged.
1. Find out if you even like living together.
The very first reason to move in with someone is to find out if you even like living with them.
Loving on them every weekend or sleeping over once in a while does not tell you everything you need to know about this person.
When you are checking in and out of their house like a hotel trying to figure out your relationship, you continue to get the version of your partner that is “on.”
Instead of them relaxing into this relationship and being themselves, they’re probably still cleaning up before you come over.
When you live with someone, everyone settles in quickly and you’ll find out once and for all what they really are like to be around 24 hours a day.
2. Figure out the logistics of being in the same house with different schedules.
Not only does living with someone give you insight into their actual personality and behavior, it helps you to discover how you will live together should you decide to get married down the road.
Today’s couples work more than two jobs between them in many cases – there’s that cost of living issue again – and if you are used to seeing each other on a pretty regular basis now, when you move in together, you’ll find yourself left home without them for long periods of time and vice versa.
It’s not all rainbows and buttercups when you move in. The reality of shared living sets in quickly.
3. Navigate your interests in the bedroom.
While your sex life might be hot during the dating phase, coming home to the same house at the end of the day is going to cause some problems.
You’ll be able to see what your partner’s sexual interests are when you are just hanging around on the couch or when it’s the middle of the night, instead of just when you can get together around your schedule.
Living together, while it can mean more sex in the beginning, can also put a damper on your sex life after a while.
You see this person day-in-and-day-out and you have to have very unsexy conversations about housework, money and bills.
That’s enough to make anyone want to keep living alone just so they can have great sex when they are together.
4. Work out the kinks with money and bills.
An advantage of living together before you get married is that you will get a handle on the finances and logistics of paying bills.
These are awkward conversations for sure: will you share the expenses or continue to just pay a portion of them?
Will you look after your own cell phone bills or combine them to save money? Will you be responsible for buying the groceries or will you share them?
When you move in with your partner, you’ll make a lot of assumptions about how you think things are going to go.
Rather than getting caught up in the drama of mistaken assumptions, have conversations with your partner about what this stuff looks like so that you don’t have to have them after you walk down the aisle.
5. Decide if you really want to get married.
The last reason you should live with your partner before you get married is to find out if you really want to get married.
Just because you decide to move in together doesn’t mean it’s all going to work out. You might hate each other at the end of the day and do not want to be around each other as much as you thought you would.
For people who have been single a long time or have wild independence about them, living with someone is a drastic change.
Many single people come to find the transition hard after being alone for so long.
Living together before you get married helps you to navigate this change together and find out for sure if he or she is the one for you.
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