Marriage is a big step in anyone’s life, but there are reasons to cohabitate before you tie the knot. In past history, marriage was more than a business deal between two families. Some of your parents might have still gotten married based on those principles. If they married for love, they were lucky. But society has changed towards something healthier. Nowadays, it’s encouraged to marry out of love. And it’s even become acceptable not to marry, and just live together, if that’s what you want.
But that doesn’t mean we handle marriage in the healthiest of ways. For example, society doesn’t teach people the importance of cohabitating before marriage. As a result, individuals get into relationships, but they never cohabitate. Instead, they get to the altar and believe everything will work out. Occasionally it does. But most of the time, this decision will come back to bite. Too many couples have split after seeing that they cannot live with their partner.
The Need to Live Together
Even couples who love each other deeply risk breaking up because they can’t stand each other’s living habits. When you think about it, the need to cohabitate is evident for the family. And you see how not being prepared to get along with someone can affect your relationship, even with your parents or siblings. So many people love their parents but can’t share the same space for longer than a day. And most young adults still remember just how desperate they were to get out of the family home.
Not just that, but many people’s relationships with their parents improved after they moved out. Why is this relevant in the context of marriage? Because it shows that love isn’t enough to cohabitate in a space. At least you share a different bond with your parents that’s much more likely to last, even if you can’t cohabitate. Even then, many kids cut ties with their families because of how they were raised.
But there’s almost no chance of reconciling with your partner if you can’t live together. That’s the whole point of marriage. To have someone you can take on life with. But if you can’t even decide what to buy from the grocery shop, there’s a high probability you won’t stand the test of time. So, what are the reasons a couple needs to cohabitate before getting married? And in what ways can this strengthen your relationship?
4 Reasons to Live Together Before Marriage
1. It Shows You Whether You Should Even Get Married
The most crucial benefit of cohabitating is that it shows you whether you should get married. But unfortunately, if you look at the numbers, they show that many couples who take this step end up splitting. Patrick Ishizuka, Ph.D., is an assistant sociology professor at Washington University. His research is focused on family, work, and social inequality. In 2018, he published a paper analyzing how cohabitating couples get along.
He found that over half of the case studies were couples who eventually ended their relationship. Many of those couples didn’t even make it to the altar. And, out of those who did, most ended things in the following couple of years. But don’t get things twisted. This didn’t happen because they cohabitated. The numbers wouldn’t have improved if they had chosen not to live together.
On the contrary, they would have gotten worse. Even if fewer couples had split, if they had married without cohabitating before, that wouldn’t have been a good sign. Those couples who would have stayed together would have done so because of how difficult it can be to get a divorce.
Not all couples are meant to be forever. Maybe you truly love your partner, but that doesn’t mean you should marry them. If you don’t cohabitate, you won’t have the chance to see how you can function as a team—cohabitating forces you to have adult discussions and figure out if you’re on the same page.
Plus, it’s an opportunity to get to know your partner. Only seeing them on dates can give you a skewed perspective. But, when you live with them, you can truly understand who they are and what they’re going through. This way, you can accurately judge if this is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.
2. It Helps You Be on the Same Page
When two people decide to live together, they’ll need time to adjust. If you’re at the age when you’re thinking of marriage, you’ve probably been living alone for a while. Or maybe you still live with your family or a roommate. Still, those dynamics are different from living with a special someone. You don’t have the same responsibilities and expectations. If you have a roommate, you’ve probably already split the fridge space.
You probably don’t eat the same things; even if you do, that’s a happy coincidence. But that’s not possible when you want to start your life with someone. Especially when it comes to marriage, you are starting a family together. Even if you don’t want kids, you are still a family. And it’s silly to think that you’ll have different shopping lists and eat different meals daily.
You must be on the same page regarding small things like meals and big decisions. Living together before getting married is not as strict, though. You don’t feel pressured to be on the same page about everything from the get-go. But you would if you’d start to cohabitate after getting married. If you start before, you still have time to smooth things out.
You can see how each of you lives and decide how to incorporate your needs and desires in the best way possible. Maybe one of you becomes the designated cook while the other does the taxes. You can slowly fall into the roles that best suit you. After you find a comfortable rhythm, you can get married without being afraid to share a space.
3. It Gives You Time to Correct Bad Habits
Everyone has some bad habits they only do in the comfort of their own homes. Some people don’t close the bathroom door. Others forget leftovers in the fridge for a day too many. And everyone has had lazy days when they didn’t even bother to shower. People can do all these things without being judged if they live alone.
But, once you add another person to the equation, things become trickier. And we’re not just talking about a random roommate. At least you can hide in your room all day if you’re living with a friend. But that won’t work with a significant other. Your bad habits will likely not be acceptable, nor will you get away with hiding in your room.
If you’re already married, it can be too late to test if you can eliminate those habits. It’s best if you live together before marriage, so you can both learn how to compromise. If you cohabitate before marriage, you don’t have to commit to living together full-time. Instead, you can start small, like spending a few weekly nights together. That way, you don’t risk overwhelming one another.
You can still retreat to your safe space if the change is too drastic. But, simultaneously, you can still unlearn some of the bad behavior that might be the source of issues. You can start creating new, better habits that fit a married couple.
4. You Can Deepen Your Relationship
If you are considering getting married, you must ensure your relationship is not superficial. Sure, you might have fun with someone, but that doesn’t mean they’d make a good partner. Or maybe you aren’t yet mature enough to be a good partner. Still, there’s no better way to find out if you are compatible than living with your partner. Plus, cohabitating will deepen your relationship because it will force you to focus on all aspects of life.
If you move in together, your relationship will also have to tackle big issues like money, career, and life goals. You won’t have the luxury of only seeing your partner on dates when both of you are having a good day. You won’t just see them at their best. Living together means you’ll also see them at their worst. Or maybe you’ll just see how they are on an ordinary day.
Still, you’ll learn who they are. You can better understand whether or not they are the right one for you. That’s not the only benefit. Sure, your relationship grows because you have to tackle life together. But it also grows because you spend more time together. You run errands, cook, clean, and probably fall asleep watching a show together. Because you live in the same place, you will have to be around each other more.
If you are truly ready for marriage, you’ll know how to have a great time while doing mundane things. You’ll get to know each other better and just learn how to be comfortable in each other’s presence. Having shared responsibilities but also spending more time together will strengthen your bond. And, after even a few months of living together, you’ll be much more prepared for married life.
Final Thoughts on Why You Should Cohabitate Before Marriage
Married life is never easy, no matter how much you prepare for it. But you can make it easier by moving in with your significant other before tying the knot. Maybe you don’t see the point, as you’ll do that after things are official. But cohabitating before marriage is kind of like a trial period.
If you can’t go through a few months of living with your partner, that’s a sign you shouldn’t consider marriage. It doesn’t mean you have to break up. You can keep dating if you still love each other. But you should put the whole marriage idea on hold.
If you think about marriage, you and your partner must cohabitate first. But, by living together, you’ll see if marriage is truly your logical next step. You’ll have time to accommodate each other and let go of some bad habits. You’ll learn how to be a true team and share your responsibilities in those months. But, most importantly, your relationship will become stronger and more serious.