The topic of cohabitation before marriage can be a sensitive one. But, every couple must decide for themselves the best way to move their relationship forward.
Five years ago my husband, then-boyfriend, and I decided to take the plunge and move in together. We’d been dating for three years and we were in love and already fairly inseparable, so cohabitation seemed like the natural next step of progression for our relationship. We moved into our very own small, crappy apartment, and it was a fun, exciting and frustrating experience all at the same time. But, it was an experience I was happy to have behind us once we said “I do.”
Unsure if you want to live with your partner before marriage? Here are the pros and cons:
Pro: You learn more about your partner before making a marriage commitment.
If you’ve been dating your significant other for a while, you already know their flaws, pet peeves and where you clash. But when you move in with your partner, you see those things fully come to fruition. How he likes t-shirts folded in drawers, how messy or tidy he is on the fly or how he handles arguments when you both have nowhere else to run.
Con: Arguments will undoubtedly occur from melding your two lives together.
Regardless of if you live together before marriage or move in the day after you say your vows, there will be arguments as you blend your lives together. You might find your partner extremely annoying. But, he likely finds you annoying, too. If you can’t get passed each other’s nuances, at least you realize this sooner than later. And if you can make it past this trying period, the best is yet to come. The first year of your marriage can be spent enjoying being newlyweds, instead of figuring out how to live together.
Pro: You have the opportunity to share household expenses and responsibilities.
Part of marriage is sharing household responsibilities – groceries, bills, and chores – and pre-marriage cohabitation lets you get a taste for what that’s like. Whether one person has been managing these tasks solo for a while or the other has never touched a vacuum, both people must work together to keep the household running.
Con: You may find your partner sucks at household tasks.
What’s the worst thing that could happen from sharing household chores? You could realize your S.O. sucks at, hates or doesn’t do them. One partner may get frustrated that the other doesn’t do chores as well as the other. Perhaps having a clean and tidy abode is important to one person, but not the other. Or, maybe one partner isn’t great at staying on top of bills. The upside here is that you can work together to balance each other out – but both people must contribute equally.
Pro: If it doesn’t work out, breaking a lease is easier than getting a divorce.
Yes, it’s unfortunate when you realize the two of you aren’t a fit AFTER deciding to live together. But it happens, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Sure, the process of undoing your lives from one another is scary, painful and exhausting. But it has to be much easier and less costly to do that before there is a legal and binding contract in place.
Con: You may feel pressure to progress the relationship since you already live together.
Once you move in together, people will soon start asking when you’re getting married – they just can’t help it. But, don’t let that pressure you. There’s no right or wrong length of cohabiting before getting engaged. And if you want out of the relationship, that’s fine too. It can be daunting to think about splitting up, moving out and starting over. But it has been done, and you can do it too.
Pro: You get an idea of what life would be like with your partner.
Living with your S.O. before marriage allows you to learn what sharing your life with that person may look like. Through real-life experiences, you’re able to see how compatible you both are and how to overcome hurdles or challenges together. Or maybe you realize life with your partner is not the type of marriage you want – and that’s okay too.
Con: You miss out on the “first” time cohabiting with your spouse.
For me, one of the downfalls to living with my boyfriend or fiancé before marriage meant I would be forfeiting that “first” time living with my husband after we wed. I thought about how marriage may not seem very different if we lived together beforehand. But, then I also considered all the other firsts we would have together – buying a house, having kids, career moves, travel, etc. – and I decided there were still plenty of new experiences to come.
Deciding whether or not to live together before marriage is completely up to you and your partner – not friends, family or society. It is, however, a step that should be taken when both people are serious and committed to each other because blending two lives and personalities together under one roof can be a trying time. Just remember, the best is yet to come.