I always heard that you should live with someone before you marry them so you will really get to know them and find out if you can stand each other long enough to share a life together and be married. I agreed with that statement figuring, it is better to find out before you totally commit and have a ring on your finger if you can live with someone and all their habits or annoying rituals that might drive you crazy. After much experience and thought into this subject, and after breaking down the meaning of living together to get to know each other before sharing a life , it doesn’t even make sense. How is living together, not attempting to share your life’s together? In most cases I would presume that the cohabitating part, adds the majority of the stresses in a marriage, so going into something as huge as sharing a life together, should not be treated as thoughtlessly as our generation goes about it.
When you go into a life with someone viewing it as a test run to marriage, it’s almost as bad as saying, “well let’s just get married and if it doesn’t work out, hey there is always divorce as an option”. I realize there are always exceptions and situations where living together before marriage just makes sense or is necessary in order to keep the relationship together, such as moving to a new city together yet not being ready for marriage. At least in this situation a couple has already committed to picking up and moving their lives for the other and that is a huge commitment in itself. I also realize living together for couples who do not believe in the institution of marriage and who are on the same wave lengths in regards to expectations from each other and where the relationship is or is not going, than living together can be a very successful situation.
In my experiences I blindly moved in with ex-boyfriends, thinking this was the next step in our relationship, like a pre marriage run. Now looking back, I think it was a horrible decision to move in with a man without a commitment. Not only from my experience personally but from witnessing what happened to friends and family as well. Living together first just took away from the relationship instead of adding anything besides more stress, pressure, and feeling like the relationship was in limbo. On top of the fact that you are both always holding over each other’s head the ”I can leave at any time” card. Being boyfriend and girlfriend, although you are committed to each other by title, you are more committed to the shared responsibilities financially as well as taking care of the household chores, cooking, laundry, etc. and you learn pretty quickly that it sounds like fun at first, but you are not just playing house with a cute boy or girl.
Marriage is an agreement to take care of each other through life’s good and bad times, to have each other’s back always, and to have a mindset that no matter what happens you stick it out together (outside of the betrayal of cheating, which in my opinion is unforgivable). The only commitment of living together is simply a lease agreement stating as long as we are happy enough for the time being, I’ll stick around. Many times a man will ask his girlfriend to move in with him for the wrong reasons, such as: “it makes sense financially”, “it will buy me more time to propose”, “I will find out if I even want to propose”, “I trust her more than my male friends to pay bills on time”, “she will take care of me like mommy does”, and “easy access to regular sex.” None of these are reasons enough to move in together, we don’t realize how big of a step this actually is and when it’s done so nonchalantly the relationship has a very poor chance of success. When a couple is really serious about each other and making a life together you should never be thinking of a “pre run” to marriage.
You get to know a person by dating and building a friendship based on respect and trust then that friendship moves to a deeper level and can flourish into falling in love. Most couples never really discuss the important or uncomfortable topics such as views on marriage, children, finances etc. before shacking up together, and then they wonder why they feel like they moved in with a stranger. You learn to love by talking to each other about your fears, goals, dreams, beliefs, and all the other personal random things that most couples do not find out about each other until they live together and it’s too late, unless until the lease is up. If you love someone enough to ask them to marry you, you should know almost everything there is to know about the person, good or bad and you should be willing to not just put up with exactly who that person is good and bad. When you don’t have this commitment first, once you move in and real life sets in, it is too easy to give up when times get tough and unfortunately that is what most people do, give up, walk away.
Once living together, couples may feel pressured to get married based on being pushed from family, your partner, or you may just feel like it is the next step to take, since you’re already living together. More than 50% of couples who live together before marriage end up in divorce or never even make it to the altar. It seems as though couples get disillusioned and the values of marriage are not held to a high level of importance. Getting hitched changes the whole dynamic of a relationship, you have more fight to do whatever it takes to make each other happy and make life beautiful together. When you love your partner it should not be a test, this gives each other a great chance to fail that test and move on to the next person since nothing is really keeping you together.
When you decide to spend your life with your best friend/soul mate out of love, respect, trust, and a commitment to be there good and bad, living together completes the package and your lives together really begin. In marriage everything is perceived different and taken more serious, problems between you and your partner will be handled more delicately because there is so much more on the line. Home should be your sanctuary, the place you go to relax and retreat after battling with the world and outsiders, the place where your partner in crime and the person who makes life easier is waiting for you. Living together happily and peacefully is the cake, marriage is the icing. Just based on my experience alone, not even taking into account all the national studies done on the advantage of marriage before cohabitation, I know 100% the next man I live with will be my husband or at the very least my fiancé because I want to build compatibility, not test it.
I am sure living together before marriage has worked for many couples, but compared to a marriage that took the time to really get to know each other, fell in love, decided to get married, and start a life together, I bet the couple who did not wait does not have as strong as a foundation and overall respect and appreciation for coming home to each other and sleeping next to each other every night. Marriage has a very positive effect on a relationship for those who have not lived together because both partners make a real effort from day one and go into sharing a home and a life knowing that if it does not work out, you have a whole lot more to lose than just your roommate.