Did you know that there are roughly 8.5 million couples living together in the United States who aren’t married?
According to the US Census, many people believe that living together before marriage is better than facing divorce later. Is taking a trial run on a longstanding commitment become the acceptable way to navigate long-term relationships?
Countless couples have pondered the same question in the past few years. During the 1950s and earlier, the rare unmarried couples who lived together didn’t discuss it. Cohabitation is widely practiced and acceptable for most people in today’s culture.
Considerations Before Couples Try Living Together
However, you and your partner have several things to consider before you share a place. It’s a big move that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As you discuss the possibilities, be transparent about your intentions so you’re both in sync.
Many people choose this option to see if they can cohabitate peacefully. What if living together is a tactic that one or both of you are using to put marriage off? This is an issue worth exploring.
The first step to take before you make this crucial decision is to be completely honest during your conversation. According to the Pew Research Center statistics, at least 53 percent of couples said they shared a home before they were married. Neither of you wants to base this move on misleading expectations.
What if one of you dreams of walking down the aisle one day while the other person has no desire to make such a formal commitment? Perhaps, one of you has already talked to a wedding planner and has a detailed itinerary of the big day. However, one of you might not be that far in the relationship, or maybe you don’t even consider marriage an option.
It’s a serious topic that you both can’t afford to ignore. Sharing your thoughts and expectations now may nix major issues and misunderstandings in the future. Perhaps your shared vision is to get married one day, but you have no indication when or how soon this day will come.
The Benefits of Living Together Before Marriage
Every decision you make has positives and negatives, including cohabitating before marriage. You may be in a hurry to give your partner their house key, but they might not be as eager to accept it. Here are eight positive reasons for you to consider.
You Get the Adjustment Period Out of The Way
It’s not easy for two people to live together, even if they are madly in love. Just remember the stresses you had living at home with your parents and siblings. You also probably had difficulties adjusting to sharing a college dorm with a roommate. The same adjustment period will happen with the one you love.
Consider the fact that love is blind, and it takes time to know someone. For now, you may ignore some of your lover’s annoying habits. The relationship is new, and you are too infatuated to concentrate on anything negative.
It will be even more apparent if you’re living together before marriage. Each of you will get a true sense of how the other lives and functions. The time you have cohabitating will help you get used to each other’s quirks. So, there are no surprises after the nuptials.
There may be some mild confrontations over simple things like leaving the toilet seat up or letting dirty dishes stack up in the sink. Soon, you will learn one another’s habits and make compromises as needed. Many people think living together before marriage makes the process a little easier.
2. Mutually Beneficial for Finances
Maybe one of the reasons you are thinking of moving in with your lover is finances. Whether you rent or own your place, it takes a lot of money to run a household. According to an article published by The Nest, the average household expenses in America are approximately $60,060 a year.
The article also states that the median American income is about $73,573. If you lived alone, you’d only have about $13,515 for other living expenses. Of course, you may make more or less than this average. It only makes sense that cohabitating would be mutually beneficial.
3. You Have the Chance to Build Stronger Bonds
Dating is a way of a couple testing their compatibility. The more time you spend together, the more you see how the other person ticks. It’s also a crucial time for bonding. Living in the same house may prove if you can sustain your commitment.
4. It’s Easier to Move Out Rather Than Divorce
If you find out that the person you love isn’t the person you can spend the rest of your life with, then it’s better to find out before you’re married. Once you tie the knot, it’s a very costly process to get a divorce.
5. You See How Life Will Be as A Couple
The one you love may be great in a relationship, but when you cohabitate, everything can change. You will see all the little quirks that can drive you mad when it’s in your space. You get a preview of married life when you share a space first.
Soon, you go from infatuation to an intimate attachment, and it’s not just about that physical bond. You learn to be intimate with your mate emotionally and spiritually, as these are part of a commitment. Plus, it’s more challenging to have intimate moments when you don’t share a dwelling.
7. Your Friends Will See You as A Couple
Once you share a space, your friends and family will see your commitment level to one another as a bit deeper. They will look at you as a couple rather than just two people who are dating.
8. You Can Share Responsibilities
It takes a lot of effort to run a household, and you can have help. Just having someone take the trash out or wash the dishes can be a significant relief. The shared responsibilities free up more time for you to focus on the one you love.
The Downsides of Cohabitation
Even the most loving and committed couples have disagreements. If you live in the same household, it’s a little challenging to put some distance between you and your partner. There are also a few other cons to consider before you move into your lover’s place.
1. Differences of Opinion in Finances
You may be one of the lucky ones who finds a mate with the same financial personality. Usually, one partner is a spender, and the other is a saver. While most couples can make compromises, economic arguments can spoil a relationship quickly.
As housemates, you’ll find out how your financial negotiations will go before you’re married. You may butt heads when it comes to how bills and other financial obligations are split. While it may be 50/50 when you are only living together, you’ll be fully vested as a spouse.
It’s better to find out now if someone is a miser or a spendthrift before you tie the knot. An article published by Couple Family Psychology states that financial issues are among the top reasons people in America get divorced. If you discover you’re financially incompatible while cohabiting, moving out is much easier than a painful divorce.
2. Lack of Family Support
Many religious and cultural groups consider living together before marriage immoral. According to an article published by Unmarried Equality, there are still four states that criminalize cohabitation. However, a few states consider couples married after sharing a home for a certain number of years. This is called a common-law marriage.
Although most people don’t mind unmarried couples sharing a home, some believe it’s immoral or sinful. If you and your person have decided to move in together and either side of the family objects, it could be stressful. These family members cannot only reject your living arrangements, but they can also be unsupportive of your relationship.
When there’s a conflict with either side, it usually trickles into the couple’s relationship. You may need to bite your tongue to keep from causing issues within the family, but you try to stay civil. It’s also stressful when you constantly defend your mate to your family.
While the objections may be over your living situation, you may see a side of their family or friends that you don’t like. It’s something to think about, because they may not change their attitudes once you decide to get married.
Will Living Together Strengthen Your Marriage?
There aren’t any definitive answers to this question because of all the variables involved. A study published by the Journal of Marriage and Family concludes that there’s no substantial evidence that cohabitation before marriage can minimize divorce risks. It also found that there wasn’t much of a difference in the rate of marital satisfaction between those who live together and those who wait.
Deciding to share space is a big commitment between two people. While some still frown on cohabitation before marriage, it’s becoming the new normal. Folks have discovered that it’s much easier and cost-effective to move out than file for divorce.
However, there are still those folks that believe that you should have a piece of paper and a ring before you live together. There are both positives and negatives to making such a move, and you will have to decide what works for you and your spouse.