Should You Live With Your Boyfriend Before You Get Married?


I got into a thing with a reader on Facebook a few weeks ago. I was saying some version of what I’ve been saying for 10 years – that while it’s nice to feel that you “just know” when it’s right and rush to the altar, science reveals that it’s usually a bad idea.

This upset her terribly, because I was suggesting that she was “wrong” and nobody likes it when someone makes them wrong. But there are certain issues where it’s not about opinions or feelings; it’s about facts and figures. And since we have data on what works and what doesn’t, I think we’d be remiss to ignore the data.

Believe me, I understand her contention: she has a friend who met her husband at a bar, got married in two months and they’re still together thirty years later. That’s lovely, but it’s not a compelling argument, especially when studies show us that people who get married within the first year are more likely to get divorced. My reader wanted her feelings to be true, because it would justify her decisions to dive into passionate relationships. It was much harder to hear that her methodology for choosing partners (“being in love”) is not always the best way.

Living together doesn’t guarantee a great marriage, but it is a smart precursor for people to figure out if they can live together in peace.

A similar argument takes place around cohabitation. For years, people have said that living together was a bad idea and that people did so were more likely to get divorced. Those are old numbers, according to this study reported in The Atlantic.

Moving in together without a diamond ring involved didn’t, on its own, lead to divorce. Instead…the longer couples waited to make that first serious commitment, the better their chances for marital success…Individuals who committed to cohabitation or marriage at the age of 18 saw a 60 percent rate of divorce. Whereas individuals who waited until 23 to commit saw a divorce rate that hovered more around 30 percent.

“For so long, the link between cohabitation and divorce was one of these great mysteries in research,” Kuperberg says. “What I found was that it was the age you settled down with someone, not whether you had a marriage license, that was the biggest indicator of a relationship’s future success.”

Cohabitation has increased by nearly 900 percent over the last 50 years. More and more, couples are testing the waters before diving into marriage. Census data from 2012 shows that 7.8 million couples are living together without walking down the aisle, compared to 2.9 million in 1996. And two-thirds of couples married in 2012 shared a home together for more than two years  before they ever waltzed down an aisle.

Living together doesn’t guarantee a great marriage, but it is a smart precursor for people to figure out if they can live together in peace. The dangers of living together are mostly about inertia: couples stay in relationships longer than they should because once they live with someone, it can be harder to find the escape hatch.

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Julia

    I just moved in with my boyfriend of 5 months. I know its terribly early but we’ve basically spent every day together since we first met. I welcomed the opportunity and we’ve already had some challenges to face. We’ve done with with lots of support for one another. I am 33 and he is 39, we’ve both dated enough and done enough internal work to feel pretty positive about our future together.

  2. 2
    sunflower

    I think living together prior to marriage isn’t a bad thing.  I think it’s the mindset on how you enter into it that matters.  For example, are you just doing it for convenience because you are spending a lot of time together, or are you both feeling like it could lead to marriage, being both open to marriage.  I definitely wouldn’t move in with someone and give up my independence and own home for convenience just to see “how it goes.”  There would have to be a bigger plan and the agreement would have to suit us both.  Whether people agree or not, marriage is a contract, it’s an ever-changing negotiation.

  3. 3
    Jessica

    My boyfriend and I started off as friends. He was crazy about me and would always ask me why I wouldn’t date him. He then moved to new york when I realized I shouldn’t have let him go. I flew to New York to claim my love for him. Shortly after, he moved back to Florida to be with me. We have lived together now for 5 months and he has become a person I do not even recognize. He is hostile, aggressive, rude, and has zero regard for another human beings feelings, including my own. I have tried nearly everything to make this work out but everytime he says he loves me, his actions speak otherwise.

    1. 3.1
      Karmic Equation

      He’s being a bad bf. You need to break up with him and move out. When there is a disconnect between a man’s words and his actions, believe his ACTIONS.
      Anything else, and you’re stringing yourself along.
      Please leave him for your the sake of your self-esteem and future happiness.

    2. 3.2
      brooklynmermaid

      Mark is absolutely correct regarding “chemistry”  as in illusion and how relationships go from bliss she s@#t  within 18-24 months.
      As much as it still hurts and as much as I love my ex husband, I had to tell him I was not happy with our marriage. We did not live together before marriage and got married 9. 5 months after meeting. Yes! We had the physical chemistry of an Atomic bomb!
      However, he showed me his true colors early while we were dating so I blame myself for not following my logic. A couple of months into our courtship, he took a phone number from my phone and called a male friend of mine and called him. Chris was a phone friend I had met on an online dating service; we never met in person but were phone friends. I did approach my sweetheart regarding the call me made and told him if we are going to have a healthy relationship, he needed to go to counseling because he had trust and what he had done was extremely disrespectful. 
      I married him anyway during our blissful period. I discovered through our marriage that we both had childhood wounds and attachment issues. When he couldn’t have his way with me physically, he eventually moved out of the master bedroom into the upstairs bedroom. We became roomates and I did not know how to react but to shut down emotionally and physically. Yes, I contributed to our divorce due to ignorance and frustration on not knowing how to communicate effectively. Yes, we went to counseling however, it was  consistent. But I was still willing to continue the work and was willing to find another method until we found a relationship coach that would help us both.
         Yes, it’s been a year since our divorce. I have been in counseling and psycho therapy to deal with my issues. My ex hand I have been in contact occasionally and toyed with the idea of reconciliation. The last time we were in contact (he called me after four months of no contact), we had a casual early dinner and I asked him if reconciliation is something he would like to consider. He replied “Yes, in my heart but . . . ” he never completed that statement. Since he initiated contact, I wanted to get to the point. He then proceeded to share he had begun dating again on Match.com. I still don’t understand why he contacted me since it is apparent he has moved on.
         I have moved on as well and have been dating someone for the past  8 months as I continue therapy and counseling. I don’t have the same physical “chemistry” I had with my ex. But . . . I believe our relationship is much healthier. Yes, we have some problems to workout together. He is 10 years older and I don’t have the physical attraction I had with my ex but we are more compatible and I enjoy his presence.
         We have been discussing marriage however, I must admit, I have to take my time and will not get married or move in with him until more time is invested. It’s been only 8 months and I feel I need to wait at least another sixteen months before even considering moving in or marriage. As I explained to him, if I decide to move in with him, we need to be formally engaged. He agreed as we are both compromising. And if things don’t work out, his promise to me is to be certain I am in my own home as I intended to purchase a home recently and he asked me to wait. As he explained, if we are married, we will have two homes to deal with and would complicate things financially. 
         Until then, I have enough time to work on my issues while we continue our courtship as I continue to struggle with letting go of my ex who I’m still in love (lust) with.

  4. 4
    Christine

    I lived with my last serious boyfriend for about six years. I almost regret it except for some of the great things I learned from the relationship. I spent a long time with a man whom I knew was ambivalent about marriage. I was young and believed he’d eventually come around with enough time but it never happened.

    I’m only speaking for myself here, but I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to cohabitate if you are a woman and you want to get married. I think Evan’s advice is sound. Based on my own experience, investing in men who aren’t Mr. Right candidates is a total waste of time and I think that includes cohabitation.
    I think it’s a different story if you’re divorced, are certain you don’t ever want to get remarried, or you have kids already or your kids are grown. I think if I had been married and divorced and had kids by now, I would be looking for something different in dating than I am now.
    Even so, I enjoy my independence, and I doubt I would ever live with a man without being married, even post-divorce. I just don’t see the point, even post-divorce.
    Also, the process of separating after living together sucks. I am pretty sure it hurts as bad as a divorce, and you didn’t get any of the benefits of marriage. That’s not counting all the issues with broken leases and other legal issues.
    I’ll just stay in my own home until the deal is sealed.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      And if the man you love wants to live with you before he buys you a ring or sells his house, you’d refuse him? You’d tell him: propose to me after 18 months or I’m breaking up with you? I would think that you’d be making a big mistake.

      1. 4.1.1
        Christine

        Evan, I don’t understand your reply. I didn’t say anything about giving me a proposal after 18 months, but the answer to your question is that I would probably tell him no. How is that “big mistake”? It sounds like you’re saying that it’s his way or else.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I’m saying that if he wants to take six months to live together to be “sure” before he proposes and you put your foot down, you’ll lose your man. Moving in is a reasonable step. Insisting that he buy a ring and marry you before you move in is not as reasonable. If you move in together and things don’t go well, you’ll be glad you weren’t married. If you move in together, and he doesn’t propose in a reasonable amount of time, you exit, and will be glad you weren’t married.

      2. 4.1.2
        Christine

        Evan, I don’t see how you could possibly “assure” me of anything when you weren’t there. You completely mischaracterized my comment about “18 months or else” and now you’re an expert on my failed relationship? You’re not making any sense.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Okay, Christine, you’re the expert on your failed relationship. What did you discover after moving in together? Do you think you would be happily married to that man today if he married you first and moved in later?

    2. 4.2
      Chance

      It might behoove you to consider how much men put at risk when they decide to get married, especially the types of men that women want to marry (successful ones).  There is a lot of  income and accumulated wealth that can be snatched away in the event of a divorce.  That is why a lot of men want to see what it is like to live with a woman before ultimately deciding to marry her.  Besides, what do you have to lose by keeping an open mind?

      1. 4.2.1
        Christine

        I appreciate these comments. However, I disagree with Evan. I am not sure how you arrived at your conclusion because it’s not based in any evidence that is presented in this post. We’re talking about a study and while I agree that it’s worth a blog post and discussion, it’s not gospel that will work for everyone. I am also interested in your black and white conclusion, because I don’t think it’s logical. There are quite a few other possible outcomes in that hypothetical situation.
        Chance, I appreciate your comment. I am only speaking for myself in saying that cohabitation did not work the first time. By “work” I mean that it didn’t result in getting my intended outcome, which was to get married. Also, what I want is just as important as what the man wants. I never said “My way or the highway.” I just have a strong disinclination to repeat something that didn’t work the first time. 

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          It’s not a black and white conclusion at all. In fact, your decision is black and white: marry me without moving in or lose me. Moving in is much more nuanced. You’re making the classic mistake of saying: “Moving in didn’t work the first time; I won’t do it again.” I assure you: if your relationship didn’t work after moving in, it wasn’t the “moving in” that was the problem. It was that you were an incompatible couple. If you’d had married him, you’d simply be a divorcee now. And he may be a lot poorer for it. Which is further evidence that moving in was the right decision – for him.

      2. 4.2.2
        Christine

        Also: Chance, those types of situations are handled through prenuptial agreements. And successful women have those same concerns.

        1. Chance

          If you are truly willing to sign a prenup, that could alleviate some of his concerns.  However, there are still issues of enforceability and they are usually contested even if they hold up (this costs a lot of money). 
           
          You are right that women have the same concerns, and they usually address these concerns by not marrying men that have less assets/income than they do.  Are you suggesting that men do the same?  Besides, this is about maximizing your chances of a getting the man to marry you.  So, the fact that women have the same concerns is irrelevant in this context.  If a man is hesitant to marry before moving in, you’re not going to convince him to go ahead and marry you by saying:  “you know, women have the same concerns about money”.  That fact is going to be irrelevant to him, especially since it will likely be coming from someone who makes/has significantly less.

      3. 4.2.3
        Andrea

        Chance I hear you argument often, and I find it very offensive.  I have a six figure income and 90% of the men that I meet make considerably less than I do.   Thanks to the recession, the are more couples than ever before where the woman has the higher income.   Your assumption that the man is the only one taking a big risk is outdated.  Remember the person who makes the most pays spousal support!   :)

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          40% of women make more. Men pay 97% of alimony cases.

    3. 4.3
      Dina Strange

      I agree with Christine. I will not live with a guy before marriage also. If he respects and loves me, he will honor my wish…

      And if he won’t, well it means he is not the right one. 

      1. 4.3.1
        Chance

        It works both ways, Dina.  He could respect and love you, but he may wish to live together for a while before getting married and taking such a big financial risk.  If you expect a ring on his finger as a condition of living together, then you aren’t honoring his wish.  Does that mean you don’t respect and love him?

        1. Jenn

          To me, the bottom line of why there is so much divorce these days is simple: too many people are jumping into sexual relationships too soon, and it is muddying their thinking. THAT, along with people living together INSTEAD of marriage (as opposed to “before” marriage) is why guys are so hesitant to commit. Why should they make the ultimate commitment when women are NOT REQUIRING IT? Waiting until marriage for sex and living together would give couples PLENTY of time to get to know each other as people (as opposed to sex partners), and makes it easier to ascertain whether or not you’re with the right person because you’re not making decisions based on your hormones (“I know he doesn’t always treat me well, but the sex is awesome!”).
          Personally, yes, I would walk after a certain amount of time and no ring. My time is precious and if a year goes by and the guy still doesn’t know if he wants to marry me, then he’s not the one for me. Period.

        2. Sunflower

          Sorry, but agree with Dina.  It’s not just a financial risk on the man’s part any more, that’s old school.  Women can take a hit just as bad financially.  

    4. 4.4
      A Sky Called Shotgun

      Christine said “Also, the process of separating after living together sucks. I am pretty sure it hurts as bad as a divorce,”.
       
      Speaking as a guy? Ha! I can assure you that the family court experience is not something any sane guy would want to voluntarily expose himself to. Nope. I think for guys that living together is way better than marriage. With living together you get the deal you agree to w your significant other, not the deal the state clubs you to near death with.

  5. 5
    Marie

    It depends if your goal is to get married or not.  I would not live with someone unless there is a clear discussion that this is a commitment that is being made with the goal that we are working towards marriage.  The guy doesn’t need to propose per say but it should be very clear to him that we are living together with the intent of marriage.  Otherwise it will drag on and on and on with the guy thinking everything is groovy (or just inertia) and you getting upset. Clear expectations must be set.  This is part of the negotiation that needs to go on in a relationship. And yes, even if the guy is the love of my life, he needs to know and respect what my boundaries are.  If he does not than it is highly unlikely that he is the love of my life or that I will still stay in love with him.  I actually got engaged and then married to my husband before moving in together.  It is really nice because everything we’ve done since has gone directly to building our joint futures together with no doubts hanging over our heads about our level of commitment or if this co-habitation thing will lead to marriage.  No energy is wasted.  In contrast, my girlfriends are still going on to year 3 or 4 with co-habitation with no end in sight and they are not very happy (but unwilling to leave because of sunk costs or fear of being single).  Their boyfrieds however don’t seem to notice or care.

    1. 5.1
      Julia

      Semantical disagreement here: “I would not live with someone unless there is a clear discussion that this is a commitment that is being made with the goal that we are working towards marriage. ” That sounds like engagement to me. Personally all I needed to know is that he wants to get married and that he wants to live with me. Dating is the trial period, cohabitating, for us, is part of dating. We are testing one another out. I am pretty sure we will end up married but we might be awful together, which is why I don’t need to know that we are working towards marriage, rather that if all goes well, we will get married.

      1. 5.1.1
        Marie

        @Julia – an engagement means, “Sweetie I want to spend the rest of my life with you, will you marry me [cue ring].”  = I have already decided to marry you, all else is topping on the cake.  Please say yes.
        A clear discussion of commitment with the intent to marry is, “Honey, my ultimate goals are to get married and have kids, ideally with you.  I understand that what you need before this is to live together for a short period of time.  I am open to considering this but I want to know what our goals are.”  Or refer to what Fusee said below which is better than what I can say.
        Just because a man is marriage-minded doesn’t mean he is marriage minded towards You.  The great mistake that women make when a man says he wants to get married someday is to assume he means he wants to get married to you.  If your relationship is at the point that you would consider moving in with someone, then it should be stable enough to discuss the possibilty of marriage in a rationale manner rather than one side feeling like there is an unspoken expectation while the other side may be feeling an unwanted burden when it is several months into the cohabitation with no clear exit strategy.  Clearly you do not want to know if you are working towards marriage.  That’s fine but one day you may want to know, how are you going to find this out?  What if he says then, honey, we were just trying this out, no expectations.  You said yourself that we were just trying this out.  We are doing fine, how does a piece of paper change anything?  What brought this on? Why are you changing?  This is not what I signed up for.

        1. Julia

          Slow down Marie, take a breathe. There is no way to know after 5 months of dating if you are going to spend the rest of your life with Someone. Things I do know: that we love each other, we both want the same things and we plan our life together. I fully expect that we will date for 1-2 years before engagement, we are evaluating one another and our relationship. I’m not just sitting around hoping and praying he asks me to marry him. That sounds so disempowering/trying to read the last part of the story. 

        2. Marie

          My point exactly.  That is why I would not move in with someone after only 5 months.  This kind of conversation occurs after at least a year.  But that’s the difference between our personalities.  I like to do things sequentially with a plan going in and knowing exactly what I am getting into.  I am not an explore as we go along sort of person. 

  6. 6
    Lola2

    Evan, 
    interesting post… in his famous book “Paradox of choice”, Barry Schwarz  says that people who live together before marriage (taking it for a test run, so to speak )  tend to be “maximizers”, people who want to be sure they are getting the “best”. It is the very act of  having this “return policy” mentality (if it doesn’t work out, we will move out) that makes people to be LESS committed, not more. He further gives examples of study that people are more satisfied with non-returnable items that they are with the returnable ones, in general.
    if, in the other hand, the choice is final, we go to much longer lengths (and put bigger efforts) in making the relationship (in this case, marriage) work. Whats your opinion on that ?
    Not saying I’m advocating one way or the other… But this book really made me think hard about co-habitation before marriage.  

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Living together wasn’t reason for her breakup. I believe it’s foolish to get married before living together – and I did it myself. You’re making a FORTY YEAR life decision; you don’t think it’s wise to try it out for six months first?

    2. 6.2
      Andrea

      I agree.  I would not live together.  Call me old school, but I don’t consider that a commitment–nor do all of the cohabitating men that hit on me, apparently.  To them it is about saving money and regular sex, nothing more.   Besides, marriage is about making a conscious choice to stand by each other, come hell or high water, and working out whatever differences you have together.  Cohabitation is definitely not that–it’s not even on the same continent!   Any guy that needs an escape route is not husband material, and will only waste your time.   

  7. 7
    Dria

    Evan, I am now a happily married woman to a man who consistently shows me every day that he desires, loves, honors, and respects me. I was one of the first 25 women to purchase “Why He Disappeared”. Your advice is both sound and prudent, yet it pains me to say that I disagree with you on this point. My hubby and I dated for 2 years and 3 months before we got engaged. We did not live together until after our wedding day. It was important to me to honor my Christian upbringing; therefore, we simply waited. I have had an absolute blast learning all kinds of new things about him, especially his favorite foods for me to prepare. He is not a neat freak, but a few socks on the floor do not concern me. My husband once broached the subject of living together when we were at the 14 month mark in our courtship. I explained why this was not the best idea for me. Yes, I could have lost him, but instead, I gained his steadfast commitment. We were both 39 when we married for the first time, and I know that your insightful advice played a major role in our jumping the broom.

    1. 7.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Dria – I’m happy you’re happy. That’s all that matters. But your Christian upbringing renders your advice useless in this space. Not because you’re Christian, but because your decision was made by your religion. You’re also coming to the false conclusion that because YOU had a positive experience marrying and THEN figuring out if you’re compatible living partners that this is a good idea for OTHER people.

      I’m frankly shocked that so many women think it’s a good idea to dive into a marriage without having tried the experience on for size first. Methinks this is coming from a place of fear, not from a place of confidence. Because if you’re confident in yourself and your boyfriend, you wouldn’t be afraid that he’s going to live with you and then dump you or refuse to propose. You’d be excited to move in together.

      1. 7.1.1
        Sara

        I agree with your comment, Evan.  Speaking as a woman who has felt VERY strongly in the past about no living together before marriage, I know myself well enough at this point to recognize that it has absolutely always been because I was scared that the guy won’t commit to marriage ultimately.  When you think about that, if I’m so concerned that he won’t want to marry ultimately and that’s what I want, why am I still with him, right? (Hypothetically speaking, of course, since I’m currently single:)  Clearly he is not the right guy for me if we don’t want the same type of life together.  As a last comment to all the ladies out there who have personal (but non-religious) reasons for their complete “no way” attitude about living together, I will say this:  I feel you, sisters.  It’s super hard to be real with yourself and figure out what that’s all about for you.  Especially if it might mean saying goodbye to a man in whom you have invested so much.

  8. 8
    Britt

    For someone who worships at the altar of stats and logic, I don’t understand why Mr. Katz would contradict the maxim of  “why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?” The end game for women is to get married and have children. For whatever reason, we need the stability of the institution of marriage before we can consider settling down with a man and giving him our life and children. What I understand about men is that they want someone to cook for them, clean for them and have sex with them. Usually, when a couple lives together before or outside of marriage, all three of the aforementioned are taking place. So, what would be the economic benefit to getting married for the man? Why should he take on the risks or responsibility of marriage when he is already getting all the benefit? While I always respect Mr. Katz’s opinion, I feel that with this advice he is betraying the female gender a bit. Could I get some more clarification? What exactly would make a man “put a ring on it” if he’s already been living with you for at least a year? I’m still not convinced that I should live with a man outside of marriage. It just goes against my logic. 

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Your logic is flawed. You’re overthinking things. Your cow maxim isn’t holding up. Here: it’s simple.

      What would make a man “put a ring on it?” Because he WANTS TO GET MARRIED. If you have a “marriage minded” boyfriend who talks about how he wants to be a dad someday – AND he’s your devoted boyfriend of 2 years – AND he asks you to move in together – what do you THINK he’s doing?

      On the other hand, if you have a boyfriend who DOESN’T want to get married, why are you with him at all?

      1. 8.1.1
        Fusee

        I’ll write another comment about my own opinion and experience below, but I really agree with that, Evan, and I think his marriage-mindedness is the key and should be the prerequisite in moving in together.

    2. 8.2
      D

      Britt,  As a guy, I never did understand the logic behind that old cow maxim from a woman’s point of view.  If it was true, women who spout this maxim would seem to put their all value in, as you say “cook, clean and sex”.  Really?  Is that all you’re worth?  I’d guess you are a lot more than that.  If you have a guy that only values you because you cook, clean and have sex with him, then you have found yourself a real gem (extreme sarcasm noted here).  Your guy should value you because he loves you, not what you do for him.  He loves you because he likes doing things with you, spending time with you.  You are the other half of what he considers a perfect team that can conquer life together.   If you put your trust in that stupid old adage that your mom told you about a cow and milk, you are really doing yourself a disservice.  Please aim for more than that.

      1. 8.2.1
        Jenn

        The point behind that saying is, why should he bother marrying you if he’s already got all the benefits of a wife without an official contract before God and the law? He gets to have everything he wants without making a real commitment. That is why I refuse to live with a guy before marrying him. Your relationship won’t fall apart just because your partner squeezes the toothpaste tube from the middle instead of the end. If it does, it wasn’t based on anything strong enough anyway.

    3. 8.3
      Karl R

      Britt said:
      “I don’t understand why Mr. Katz would contradict the maxim of  ‘why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?'”
       If I want a cow, I’ll buy a cow. If I just want some milk, there’s no way I’m paying for a cow.

      The maxim is wrong. It’s how some women (operating from a place of fear) think. It’s not how men think.

      I’m married. My wife and I started having sex less than a week into dating. I started spending the night the next week. Within two weeks, it was most nights. After 9 months, I didn’t spend any nights at my apartment. I still paid for my apartment. A lot of my stuff was stored there, but we were effectively living together. We got married about 3 years after we started dating.

      I know that I can have sex without getting married. I’ve done it. I know that I can have sex with my wife without marrying her. I’ve done that too. I didn’t do it so I could raise a family. Neither of us wants kids.

      I proposed to my wife, because I wanted to be married to her. If I didn’t want to marry her, I never would have married her. It’s that simple.

      Britt said:
      “What I understand about men is that they want someone to cook for them, clean for them and have sex with them.”

       If that’s your understanding of men, why in the hell would you want to marry one?

  9. 9
    Morris

    I realize what the statistics say about living together before marriage.  And I get that it makes sense to many people.  But I also see nothing wrong with listening to your heart on a few issues.(Like this one.)  If you don’t want to.  Don’t.  If you want to.  Do.  If we are going to base all our decisions on relationships only after considering the data it’s going to get pretty boring.

    As for me. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t live with someone until I get married.  I realize it might sound silly.  But at this point in my life it’s one of the few things that I can share with my future wife that I haven’t done with another woman.

    There are so many complicated issues that go in to making a marriage work.  I’m sure living together would get you some of that information.  But there are many ways to get important information on compatibility.  I think it’s ok NOT to check off every box on a list of things that might help you find a perfect partner.

  10. 10
    Katt

    I agree with Marie @5 that it’s best to wait before co-habiting.  I know there is the old try before you buy reasoning but that falls down when one partner or the other doesn’t have both feet in the relationship and isn’t sure of their long term goals, i.e. marriage, children, purchasing a house together etc. when the other partner is thinking this is fantastic, we will be together, get married and live happily ever after. 12 months or so down the track when you have got to know each other, and before you move in together, if you don’t have any common future plans and goals and want to make a commitment why would you want to live together? Convenience, sex, money? Not really solid reasons for a lasting loving relationship where you have constructive plans for the future together. I have had several friends over the years who have moved in with their boyfriends and sad to say it never worked out and left some broken hearts behind. 

    Chance @4.2 it’s not just men who put a lot on the line these days when it comes to marriage and money. A lot of women are in well paying jobs these days and also run a financial risk if a divorce happens. Times are changing and if your #1 priority is money and you hang out for a girl who earns as much or more than you, you may be in for a long wait as there is going to be a lot of competition from other guys chasing that top few percent of girls who do have the top job and big bank balance.  Yeah, lots of girls like the gorgeous Miranda Kerr, now single, rich and I think the queue starts somewhere on the back side of the moon …  

  11. 11
    tamara

    Personally, while I admit it could be wiser to live together for several mths before marriage, I could never do it. The reason is I simply have too introverted a personality, that this would be very hard work for me. I am only willing to do that if this is the man I’m (hopefully) gonna be with for decades/forever; I understand that marriage takes work. (Actually this need for personal time is a key factor dissuading me from marriage. ) I think that any guy who wants to marry me will have understood, maybe even liked, this introverted personality and thus would not pressure me to live with him before getting married. The 2 guys who proposed in the past did not ask me about living together prior; partly also because we live in a more conservative culture…
     
    But for those women who are extroverted, outgoing and come across as eager to spend lots of time with their bfs, I’d totally understand why a man would really want to live together before marriage. If I were a guy, I might think “If she has nothing to hide from me (e.g. no bad habits), what’s the harm in a trial run?” After all, many couples holiday together before marriage, living together is abit like an extension of that. For me, I don’t holiday or sleep over with any bfs, so it’s more consistent that I don’t want to cohabitate either, I think…
     
    I agree with Sunflower #2 that cohabiting is only advisable if you’re both marriage-minded, and like Evan says, the proposal has to come within a reasonable amount of time of living together. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and energy. That said, if you’re compatible with him, if you’re unique in his eyes, I believe living together before marriage IS the smart choice, and if you’re scared that he won’t marry you if you cohabitate first, that insecurity u have about the relationship is the red flag.

  12. 12
    Kiki

    I agree with Evan that living together before marriage is wiser. It does not guarantee that you will have a happy marriage (plenty of other work must go into that) but it will allow you to check whether you have domestic compatibility with your partner, and hopefully improve your domestic compatibility to the point that you are ready to be parents (if you wish that).
    I do understans why some women look at cohabitation as an investment which should lead to marriage, and are disapppointed if it does not.  Traditional cohabilitation means a lot of household work for the woman, and she might be willing to do that for her future husband (whose income will be eventually 50% hers) but not for a man who intends to never share his income with her.
    I lived with my boyfriend for two years before he proposed, and at around 6 months of that I figured that he does not care too much about cleaning the apartment, and if I am to have my standard of cleanliness observed, either I will have to do everything, or nag at him to help. Instead, I persuaded him to hire a cleaning lady to help, for which we shared the costs, and whatever additional work was left on top of that, I did myself, and he would do things only if he volunteered (which he gladly did for the “man’s jobs” such as lifting heavy stuff etc.).
     
     
     

  13. 13
    Dria

    Evan, I understand and respect your opinion regarding my religion, but honestly, my decisions were not derived from a place of fear at all. Because of the intensely high level of self esteem I have gained after many years of dating and reading your blog, I was confident enough to say to him that this is what I wanted. No, it may not work for other women, but it worked for me. Another point, I married a man who shared my religious views. Again, I respect your opinion.

  14. 14
    Jeremy

    Interesting discussion, so I’ll add my 2 cents.  I don’t think that living together before marriage is, necessarily, helpful (in spite of the arguments given above).  One might get a sense of what it is like to live with a certain person at a given time, but not what it is like to be MARRIED to that person.  There is a difference.  And certainly there is a difference once life gets stressful – such as when kids come into the picture.  The person you thought you knew may become someone totally different.  When we get married we are rolling the dice, using the best information we have at the moment, but unaware of what the future might bring.
    So why not increase that “information” by living together first?  Again, because I am not sure that doing so gives an accurate indication of what married life will be like.  For example, if the woman (usually the woman, but not always) wants to get married, she will be on her best behavior during the “living together” stage, and not necessarily give an accurate representation of how she would eventually be in the future.  She will likely make the man the center of her universe, shower him with attention, sex, and devotion – and I am sure that he will enjoy that very much.  But ultimately this is not the way married life will remain in most cases.
    If the man (usually the man, but not always) does not want to get married but simply wants convenient access to companionship and sex without a financial commitment, living together is his ideal scenario – why would he ever want to commit financially with marriage?  Evan has argued that the man might want to commit to marriage because he “has marriage/kids in mind” – this may well be true, but not necessarily on the woman’s timeline.  Thus, from the woman’s perspective (assuming that she is the one who wants marriage sooner), living together provides the man with what he wants, but does not provide her with what she wants, nor does it give her any assurance that she will EVER get what she wants.  She could waste her prime years waiting.
    I guess my bottom line is that there is a type of person for whom living together (without financial commitment) is the ideal scenario, and for this type of person marriage is not the ultimate goal.  There is another type of person for whom marriage is the ultimate goal, and I feel that living together is not necessarily helpful and may provide mis-information and ultimately delay the ending of a relationship that is going nowhere.
     

    1. 14.1
      Andrea

      Well said, Jeremy.  What a breath of fresh air!

  15. 15
    Jay

    It depends on the relationship.
    Surely the way that both parties – in each individual situation – feel about living or not living together pre-marriage is fundamental. Also, their ability to express their views on this, to their partner, has a significant impact on the future success of their partnership.

    Dria’s comment that her partner is also Christian is highly relevant as this demonstrates that she chose someone who is more likely to be on the same page where not co-habitating pre-marriage is concerned.

    Evan’s view seems to be that not attempting cohabitation pre-marriage is statistically unwise. Where individual situations are concerned, these statistics will only be significant in the cases where cohabitation does not flout the couple’s (or one person in the couple’s) value system. (Whether this is for religious reasons or the myriad other motivations which men and women have.)

    Evan’s blog talks laudably of the success of relationships being based primarily on honouring our own needs as women. To be true to one’s own views on cohabitation – and looking for a partner who is compatible on this point – seems a good place to start.

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Of course, you have to be true to one’s own views. You then have to come to terms with the fact that your own views may severely limit your dating pool. If you are a woman who makes $200K but believe a man should make more… If you’re into BDSM and you’re looking for a guy to dominate you in bed… If you go to church every Sunday and want a man who puts God at the center of his life… If you don’t want to have sex until marriage… you are entitled to your beliefs; you’re just going to lose out on a lot of great guys, that’s all.

      1. 15.1.1
        Jay

        It may be a truism but from the moment one decides to get serious about committing to one partner, losing out on ‘a lot of great guys’ is the inevitable – yet joyful- side effect. 

        1. Jenn

          I agree, losing out on “a lot of great guys” doesn’t really matter when all it takes in the end is THE one. So what if there aren’t a ton of eligible, handsome practicing-Catholic men lining up to date me? If I happen to find one, and he asks me to marry him, I’m not going to lament all those other great guys I could have had.

  16. 16
    Fusee

    My opinion on cohabitation has flipped-flapped over the years. When I was in my early/mid-twenties I did not know anything else than cohabitation! Heck I did not even want to get married. I was the one in the couple who was going to try things out and take my sweet time. I actually did cohabitate briefly with two boyfriends, and each cohabitation indeed revealed our incompatibilities. Not that we found ourselves domestically incompatible, but living together magnified our poor communication/lifestyle differences/bad character and made these issues not manageable on a day-to-day basis.
     
    Fast foward to my late twenties/early thirties and I had changed my mind. Believe it or not, it’s a man who introduced me to the concept of getting engaged first before moving in together! At that point in my life I was no longer interested in dating for the sake of dating. If I was going to be in an intimate relationship with a man long-term, it was going to be a marriage, otherwise I was going back to single life. So dating for me became an exploration of compatibility and character and the building of foundations of love and relationship skills for marriage. It was a temporary stage leading to a fork on the road: marriage or going our spearate ways. I no longer wanted to cohabite before marriage because I was going to make us screen one another so well that by the time we’d be ready to cohabitate we’d actually be ready to get married, hence no need to pass by the cohabitation-without-commitment phase.
     
    My then boyfriend/now husband entered the picture. I indeed screened him really fast and really well : ) We learned quickly that we were both marriage-minded, compatible, had excellent communication and conflict resolution skills, great character, and of course ridiculous attraction and love for one another yada yada. But! We had to first go through several months of long-distance which means not that much time together in person, and my then boyfriend had never cohabitated or had a long-term relationship. He absolutely needed to make sure that he was going to be able to live with someone before making the ultimate commitment. It was his self-preservation talking and nothing was going to talk him out from it. I did not even try as I totally understood him.
     
    Thankfully we were able to design a three-month trial cohabitation without any of us having to sacrifice our living situation at the time. We had a start date and an end date. Regardless of how it was going to go, we would not continue a cohabitation. 
     
    The test was hard! Although as I anticipated I did not learn anything new about him, he did! And when he went down on one knee a few months later he knew better what he was really getting himself into. He knew what was going to be difficult, and he knew I was the one he wanted to do it for. 
     
    Conclusion? The key is communication, as usual. Do not move in to “go with the flow” or to “see where things go”. Do not turn cohabitation into an unspoken contract. If you do want cohabitation to be the final test before engagement, discuss your need with your partner, and make sure you both agree. Evaluate your compatibility and character before moving in and agree on an ideal case scenario timeline. Have a plan B if things do not work out, make it a temporary trial if at all possible.
     
    I agree with Evan. Do not be tone-deaf to the needs of your partner. Have general standards and opinions, but be flexible enough to accomodate the needs of the special man you love. If he has expressed his interest in marriage through words and actions, if he is loving and devoted, if he values being with you and prefers his life with you in it, there is no doubt that he will propose to you when he is ready. Discuss a timeline if it reassures you. Women who find themselves strung along usually failed to have adequate (albeit intimadating) discussions with their partners or failed to act upon the information received.

    1. 16.2
      Jeremy

      Fusee, I am glad things have worked out for you.  But I think that your situation actually emphasizes my previous point rather than refutes it. 
      You lived with your boyfriend (at the time) for 3 months with the mutually-understood goal of determining compatibility for marriage.  Do you think that you might have, perhaps, been on your best behavior, given your desire to get married?  Do you think that what each of you learned from this very short cohabitation period necessarily educated you about what married life would be like (especially in the long-term)?  Or might it just, perhaps, have been a potentially false confidence booster?
      Again, I can not speak to your specific situation, and I hope that all works out for you.  I totally understand the desire for “determining compatibility” prior to commitment.  I just wonder if what is learned in such circumstances is factual or fantasy…

      1. 16.2.1
        Julia

        Jeremy, your viewpoint is quite cynical. You believe that women act perfect and audition for the role of wife then change immediately when they get married. I guess you think that women only have one goal: marriage to literally any man who will have us. Do you think that maybe some of us are actually looking for a partner to live our lives with, not just trying to get our MRS?

        1. Jeremy

          Julia, I think you have misunderstood my comments.  No, I certainly don’t believe that all women are looking for an MRS and are deliberately trying to fool men into marrying them.  But I do believe that anyone, man or woman, who wants something from someone else will be on their best behavior to get it, and will act differently once they get what they want. 
          Case in point – a shallow man who wants sex, is on his best behavior with a woman in order to get it, gets it, and then leaves.  The situation is different, the timeline is different, but the reason is the same.  If a woman (or a man) wants to get married and is living with their partner, they will (I believe and have observed) act differently than some time after marriage.  This is not because they are trying to be false, but rather that it is simply human nature to be on our best behavior during courtship.
          My brother and sister-in-law lived together for some time before they got married, and thought they were very compatible.  My brother said to me at the time – “wow, I am so lucky to have found a woman who prioritizes my needs so highly and who loves all the same things I do.” They drove together to their wedding, signed some documents (which, to them, were not really important), and went back home again together.  They had just gotten married, though they felt that nothing had really changed between the morning and the evening of their wedding day.  Years later, neither of them behaves in any way similar to the way they did when they lived together.  I am sad to say that their relationship has taken a decided turn for the worse (due to poor behavior from both parties – neither of them feels that their needs are being prioritized anymore, and neither of them feels like they have the same values anymore).  Living together did not teach them what being married would be like, because people are on their best behavior during courtship, and also because people change over time.
          I am very aware that a case does not prove a point, but the reasoning can be extrapolated.  I believe that one of the factors that contributes to the ultimate success of marriage is a respect for the institution of marriage – not necessarily a religious respect, but rather a simple acknowledgment that marriage is different from 2 people simply living together.  I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with living together from a moral perspective (though I don’t think it is as educational as some posters here, for the reasons I have stated above).  But I DO think that it is harmful in encouraging the perspective that so many couples who live together have – that they are basically married, and that marriage is just a piece of paper.  It is not.  There is a world of difference between 2 people living together who can end their relationship free of any consequence if they feel like it, versus a couple who is bound together due to shared finances, family, and children.  It is an entirely different skillset to resolve conflict when the honeymoon ends and escape is not so easy.
          Hence my real problem with living together before marriage – we think we are learning about our eventual spouse – I would argue that we may or may not be.  We think we are acting like we would if we were married – we are not.  We think that we understand what life will be like when we are married – we do not.  And on top of this, we generally value marriage less for it – at least, in my opinion and based on my observations (for whatever they may be worth).

      2. 16.2.2
        Fusee

        To Jeremy 16.2: Well, I can only speak for myself and my husband of course. We’re both pretty reactive, so there has never been much of “trying to be on our best behavior” going on at home : ) We’re both good people, trying hard to be loving and kind to one another evan when not feeling much like it, but we’ve never been “faking it”. If we’re in a bad mood or exhausted, well that’s what it is. We do not make the other pay for it, but we do not try to hide it either. Each of us wanted a real trial, none of us was desperate for marriage. He knew I was determined to end our relationship if we were not compatible or if we had too many issues. He knew I was an extremely happy single woman who had been so for years before meeting him.
         
        Actually our first week-end together in our new long-distance relationship (we had been together for two short months at that time) was hard! Whereas most people would have had a “honeymoon-worthy” week-end, we ended up having our first couple crisis because my new boyfriend was overwhelmed. Reactive, uh? I was concerned! I thought it was never going to work. Well, over the next few monthly visits we perfected the art of spending a whole week-end together. So when months later we did our trial cohabitation I already knew everything there was to know. I just did not know how my husband would feel about himself, so that was the nerve-wracking element of our trial.
         
        For people who are slower at revealing themselves, more dating time will be needed and a longer cohabitation might be wise. That’s why there is no size-fit-all here. You must know yourself first and really get to know the personality of your partner. That’s why I was encouraging folks to remain flexible even when firmly grounded in specific values and standards.
         
        At the end of the day, as you wrote earlier, marriage is going to present an element of gamble. We change all the time, and we do not know how some events will affect us. I honestly do not know how losing two legs would change me. I do not know how a war would change me. I do not know how getting unexpectedly pregnant and having a child would change me. I prepared myself for those eventualities and I’m really strong mentally and emotionally (not physically sadly). But no amount of dating, talking, cohabiting, and even spending years together, even buying a house and having kids before marriage will show you exactly how a lifetime together would turn out. You simply do not know.
         
        The only thing you can do if you want to give the adventure of marriage a try is look for what matters in a partner: real action-based love, compatibility and character/relationship skills, and look over a reasonnable amount of time and through a variety of scenarios how you both use that love, compatibility and character to handle your individual lives and your relationship. Once it’s done (and gives positive results), you have to decide if you’re willing to commit to deal with life’s ups and downs with that specific person, and if you do, you’ll have to stop overthinking and simply hold tight to that commitment.
         
        That’s what I’m doing.

      3. 16.2.3
        Katt

        Jeremy
        i think you may need to look at your attitude and belief that women only want to get married and any guy will do. 
        Very outdated opinion and women have a lot more choices, better education and better paying jobs these days than say 20 or so years ago. 
        What women want is an equal partner who they can love and respect and who in turn loves and respects them.  
        If you do go out with a woman who is looking for a free ride and not willing to do her fair share of the heavy lifting that partnerships require I would say dump her and move on. I would say the same about a guy who is also looking for the same free ride, dump him and move on.
        Judging by your comments would I be safe in saying that you have never been married or lived with a woman? Believe me living with someone on a day to day basis isn’t some sort of fantasy and any fake pretence or behaviour won’t stand up when you are living in an intimate situation, it will be glaringly obvious that something is wrong. 

  17. 17
    Krista White

    People these days want to be sure that a relationship is going to work out in the long term – one way of doing that is living together before marriage. With the divorce rate as high as it is, I think people are being more cautious in choosing the right life partner for them. 
     

  18. 18
    Sabine

    Wow, I just had to jump in with my two cents (or sense…). I will admit that when my last relationship ended, I was the one who moved out (and had to do so quickly due to circumstances), and I could not take much with me. So fast-foward 1.5 years and I have a nicely decorated flat that is a tranquil spot for me.

    The man of my dreams asked me to move in (his last relationship was so drawn out before marriage) but it was way way way too fast (and for the record, I just did not feel we knew each other well enough).  I let my logical brain win b/c my wallet has been there and done that.  

    I would consider moving in again but I would do so much closer to an official engagement and with my flat still intact. I’m sure it seems like I am not fully committed but if we break up, he still has his place (and I would not).

    Also, not sure if this was mentioned but shouldn’t the friendship part of the relationship be strong before committing to living together? This would be part of the day to day interactions…..thoughts? 

  19. 19
    Noquay

    These days, both men and women stand to loose a lot, both financially and emotionally, by marrying the wrong person. The terrific man who became my husband of 12 years moved in with me within about 4 months of our couple hood. That’s awfully fast, but we’d been friends for years beforehand. Luckily our values and lifestyles meshed well together. It takes time, a lot of time, to determine whether this is the case. Now, as a fifty something that out earns most of the dating pool here by a factor of four and basically both the homeowner and major breadwinner of any potential couple hood, I am super cautious of even cohabitation before it becomes clear that a potential partner and I are one the same page as to core values, lifestyle, financial and other forms of responsibility, I have way too much to loose if it doesn’t work out vs. some retired dude who rents and has few assets. I strongly believe that both men and women need to have a “plan B” firmly in place if things go wrong; this includes a way to support any kids solo if necessary, a place to live if things go south, and your own emergency savings account. It is too easy to stay in a bad rship to avoid having to be alone because one hasn’t prepared for the possibility. See lots of friends in bad rship/marriages because they feel they loose too much by leaving. Let people unfold, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

  20. 20
    Fusee

    To Jeremy 16.2.1(.1?): Thanks for clarifying the situation that made you worry about people “being on their best behavior” during courtship.
     
    I think that what you describe about your brother and sister-in-law is not so much a case of “faking it” in order to get a ring, or even marriage becoming suddenly more difficult for them than cohabitation because it is “marriage”, but the fact that your brother and sister-in-law are only committed to one another, and not also to their relationship. For a marriage to succeed (and it does not have to be “marriage”, it can simply be a mutual promise to spend your life together without any legal document signed), you must be committed to the other person AND (if not even more strongly) to the relationship. The reason is that your commitment to the other person will go through ups and downs as it’s pretty inevitable to sometimes be tired of/upset with your partner, and it’s only a strong commitment to the relationship that will sustain the downs of your commitment to the partner.
     
    You must be commited to the relationship through consistent actions and it must transcend your commitment to the person if needed. It means that you continue to be loving to your partner, to threat them well, to resolve conflict peacefully, to sacrifice yourself for the sake of your commitment to the relationship, not just for the sake of the partner, and especially when you are upset with them or just plain tired of them. That’s what makes a life-long commitment (aka marriage) different than anything else: the commitment to the commitment. Some people are already there without having signed legal paperwork, while some married people will never get to that level of commitment. It’s not about the status of the relationship, it’s about what you actually commit to and how self-disciplined you are to hold on to that commitment day after day.

  21. 21
    A girl in AZ

    Evan,
    I have been reading your blog and have found it to be both insightful and helpful.  But I beg to differ in your conclusion here.  You seem to be under the impression that one recent study is proof that cohabitation is a positive thing.  I can similarly point out a study from 2012 (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) that says exactly the opposite.  In fact, the 2o12 study has gone further than the study you referenced by noting the long term negative effects of cohabitation on marital satisfaction.  We could argue that perhaps those couples mentioned in the article I attached didn’t communicate as they should have, but the study should not be ignored simply because we dislike its conclusion. 
    If we are going to respect science, we still have to look at the totality of what it is saying, and the majority of studies (including studies that are recent, as I pointed out) still come to the conclusion that it negatively effects marriages.  While I think that it is interesting that this study controlled for the factor of age, that is merely one factor and does not mean that cohabitation is a sensible choice from a merely scientific viewpoint.  If we want healthy marriages, wouldn’t it make sense not to throw all of these other studies out the window?  Wouldn’t it make sense to consider that while young age is a risk factor to marital success that cohabitation is also a risk?    

    1. 21.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      How is cohabitation a risk? Think for a second. How can living together first hurt a marriage? The only way I can see is that people get married out of inertia (and not because they really want to get married). But that’s not “cohabitation’s fault”. That’s people and their myriad insecurities. Living together is the best sneak preview of married life that there is. And if he dives in and spends $10K on a ring and $30K on a wedding, and one year into marriage, you HATE each other, it would seem to me that perhaps living together first might have avoided the divorce. Hard to see your point of view that men should leap before we look – just because you want a ring on your finger now.

  22. 22
    Fusee

    Sorry for my multiple comments. I find this discussion fascinating : )
     
    A girl in AZ, thanks for the great article. I did not look at the study it refers to (I’m a scientist and seriously tired of all the studies that contradict each other – it is now proven that the majority of published research is unreproducible : ) but I agree with the sentiment expressed in the article because it relates to what I observe. People live together to test things out, get married years later, and still divorce. Others are strung along in a cohabitation for years and end up breaking up without the legal benefits of a proper divorce. Does not look too positive!
     
    I really agree with this part of the article: “Cohabitation is here to stay, and there are things young adults can do to protect their relationships from the cohabitation effect. It’s important to discuss each person’s motivation and commitment level beforehand and, even better, to view cohabitation as an intentional step toward, rather than a convenient test for, marriage or partnership.”
     
    I believe that the problem is not cohabitation per se but indeed the “sliding” from sex to sleeping over every night to cohabitating with no discussion of the meaning of that very important step and no inccrease of the level of commitment to the relationship. The step itself does not mean commitment, but for the relationship to continue and succeed the level of commitment must continue to increase, especially when moving in together.
     
    As I wrote above, if people really want to do a trial cohabitation before marriage they must do so at the very end of their exploration of one another and of their relationship, when they are almost certain that they will get married if everything goes well after a little while. It must be a mutual agreement based on a series of serious conversations. Unfortunately most people move in together because it’s fun, practical and economical, and that’s indeed the best way to either pay a high price to discover one’s incompatibility, or to continue a mistake for way too long. The solution is not necessarily refusing cohabitation before marriage but adding self-awareness and serious conversations in the process. Cohabitation, like marriage, requires partners to be committed to the relationship. Sliding into it is not equivalent to making a higher level of commitment.

  23. 23
    Karl S

    More importantly, why would co-habitation suddenly become more agreeable just because you’ve signed a bit of paper that says “we’re married” now. Yes, you’ve taken a solemn vow, but why did you even taker that vow? Did you take it because you know from experience you can live with that person? That sounds like a smarter thing to do than to try and live with somebody because you’ve taken a vow. I consider the co-habitation argument to be a lot like the waiting a while before sex argument. Sure, “the one” might be that person you slept with immediately, but that same right person would have waited for you. Waiting helps screen out the time-wasters. Co-habitation is similar in that “the one” should be able to live with you before and after marriage, but you can definitely work out who isn’t the one by living with them for a while. Bad luck to you if you’ve already married them when you work that out.

  24. 24
    Chance

    I’m going to go on the record and call a spade a spade:  this is all about money.  People that have a lot of it are naturally going to be more hesitant to leap into marriage with someone who doesn’t because his/her financial standing will take a hit.  People who don’t have much money have a vested interest in getting married before cohabitation because it is in their financial best interest to do so.  When I was dating online, the few women that I conversed with where is was apparent that they had money were also the same few women who made it obvious in their profiles that they did not want to get married.  I don’t believe this is coincidental.  With the exception of people who refrain from cohabitation before marriage for religious reasons, it would be beneficial to change the nature of the dialogue by bringing these financial concerns to the surface without fear.  Then, progress can be made in solving the problem since we will be finally getting time heart of the issue.

    1. 24.1
      Jeremy

      I have to agree with this statement.  The only real “commitment” made in marriage is a commitment of financial provision by the higher-earning spouse for the lower-earning spouse and any subsequent children of that union.  All other “commitments” are just promises – well-meaning, but breakable with no legal consequences.  We do not commit to sexual monogamy in marriage, we simply promise it.  But if one spouse violates that promise, there are no penalties in a no-fault divorce system.  Only financial provision from higher to lower earning spouse is legally enforceable, even in the event of divorce via alimony and child support payments.
        It might be nice to test the waters by cohabiting prior to this commitment, but really the only protection is a solid prenuptial agreement (and only insofar as it is enforceable). 

    2. 24.2
      Fusee

      To Chance 24, I agree that the topic money is an important factor influencing the desire for marriage (it was important to me), but I do not think it is the main factor in this argument about cohabitation before marriage if both people are indeed marriage-minded. Now if you talk about choosing cohabitation instead of marriage in order to preserve financial assets, that’s a different argument, but pre-nups are there to take care of all of these concerns.
       
      A man saying that the desire for marriage is “all about money” is talking from a place of fear. If you are in a long-term relationship with someone who support themselves adequately and that you trust, it’s not “all about money”. Now, I’m going to admit that I would never have married a man in debt, with no valuable marketable skills, and/or with poor saving habits. But for the record, I would not have been in a relationship with that kind of man either! I broke up with guys who either were barely surviving on $500/month or who had luxury tastes that I did not care for. I’m not one of those high-earner women but I do very well with what I earn, and I was not going to be dragged down by a less responsible partner. However it was okay if he was earning less or had less savings, and my husband was actually back in graduate school when we met : )
       
      To Jeremy 24.1, if you see marriage as only “a commitment of financial provision by the higher-earning spouse for the lower-earning spouse and any subsequent children of that union” then marriage is indeed not for you, regardless of your financial status and whether you cohabitate before or not. Not even talking about the emotional and spiritual promises made, they are many more legal benefits involved that the simplistic one you describe, benefits that could actually be brought by the lower-earner. Examples: tax benefits, access to (a better) health insurance, immigration benefits, raising of the children, management of the household, etc.
       
      I did not have to convince my man to be interested in marriage, it was a relationship model he had always appreciated, and although he now earns a 6-figure salary, he is excited to have me as a savvy partner to build our retirement savings together. I bring less income, but I’m 5 years from paying off the mortgage of my condo, I brought more savings to the marriage, and I have more wisdom in terms of investment strategy.
       
      If you have a partner who is on the same page as you financially, and who is responsible, marriage is not going to deplete you even if it does not work out. Write a pre-nup if it reassures you. But again, if marriage terrifies you (and it does if you only see it as the way you describe), it’s probably better to stay away : )

      1. 24.2.1
        Jeremy

        Not to beat a dead horse here, but your comments are unfortunately incorrect. All the things you mentioned are benefits, not commitments.  The promises in marriage are beautiful, if kept. The spiritual, emotional and romantic promises are fantastic, and are the reasons why I got married myself. However, they are NOT commitments. Each dose can back out at any time with no legal penalty. At the end of the day, if it all turns sour, the only obligation will be provision of the lower earning spouse by the higher earning one. That is why I always smile when I hear someone asking ‘went won’t be commit?’  my question is what are you committing to? (not what are you promising – big difference). 
        All that said, I am not anti- marriage at all. I do think some laws need to be changed, but that’s another story. I just think both people need to be careful, but especially the higher earning one. 

      2. 24.2.2
        Chance

        Fusee,
         
        I think your assessment is fair, and I can see where I likely caused some confusion by veering off topic with the sentence in my comment about the few women I encountered online who didn’t want to get married happened to be the same few women who it was obvious that they likely had money.  However, I do think the desire to get married before cohabitation is largely driven by financial reasons.  This is where I think the “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free” comments come from.  The only difference between marriage and cohabitation within the context of an LTR is the mixing of finances, which benefits the lower-earning spouse.  These women want commitment, and as Jeremy said, the only commitment made when a couple marry is that of financial provisioning from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. 

    3. 24.3
      Marie

      Chance, do you have relationships with women or see a lot of relationships where there is a big income disparity between the man and the woman?  Because most couples I know make the same amount of money and finances is really not an issue when it comes to marriage.  My husband and I make the same amount so it’s been a non-issue.  As an aside, I find it ironic, maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy, that the guy friends we have who are the most concerned about marrying a gold digger and go around warning men from marriage, end up being the ones to accidentally marry a gold digger whereas the other guys are fine!

      1. 24.3.1
        Chance

        Yes, I make more than twice what my partner makes.  Most couples I know have a big disparity between what each partner makes, especially as it relates to my co-workers.  I haven’t noticed the phenomenon that you noticed about guys who are afraid of marrying gold-diggers that end up marrying one, but I don’t think that I know any gold-diggers. 

      2. 24.3.2
        Jeremy

        Marie, I know you directed your question to Chance, but I will chime in here as well – YES.  I know many, many couples (in fact, most couples I know) where the man makes significantly more.  For some of those couples that was always the case.  In others, the income disparity was less at first, but increased when the woman decided to take time off for maternity and not go back to work/go back part-time.  I am not disparaging that choice – in fact, I think that it is great for children to have a full-time parent.
        It is not that the woman here is a gold-digger necessarily – she just felt that her role in the marriage was to be a mom, while the man’s was to provision for her and the children.  A fine model.  Except that when it breaks down, she is left with no obligations to him, while his obligations to her remain for years, or indefinitely – hence my amusement when women demand “commitment” from men, and hence my understanding of men’s reluctance to “commit” with nothing committed to them in return (though lots promised).
         

        1. Julia

          Jeremy his commitments are left to HIS CHILDREN. You know the ones who share half of his DNA. Any man who wants to have a child with a woman he may not spend the next 18 years with will be left with this commitment. Divorce is not a get out of parenting free card.

        2. Jeremy

          Julia, both his and her commitments to their children stand, marriage or no marriage, divorce or no divorce.  I am referring specifically of the commitments made by one spouse to the other upon MARRIAGE.  If spouses divorce, both have a legal (and moral) commitment to their children.  But only the higher-earning one has any commitment whatsoever to the former spouse.  
          When I refer to commitments made in marriage, I am referring specifically to actual legal commitments of one spouse to the other – and, again, the only actual commitment is provisioning of the lower-income spouse – not monogamy, not love, not loyalty….unfortunately.  So, again, when people ask “why won’t he commit?” my answer is “what are YOU committing to?”

        3. Julia

          I would suggest those men, who plan on supporting a stay at home spouse, have a prenuptial agreement but asking someone to stay at home, you should be expected to support them until your children are adults. I don’t know many people in this boat so its not something I consider. I intend to work until I retire and make roughly the same as my partner (I make slightly more.) Even still, I think its sensible to draw something out before marriage. What’s the sense in worrying about the commitment when you can negotiate it first. And you should definitely not marry someone you don’t see yourself remaining married to. 

        4. Chance

          @Julia, I don’t think I know too many men that plan on supporting a stay-at-home spouse lol.  As far as the couples I know where the wife stays home to raise the kids, a lot of time the wife unilaterally decides to stay home regardless of what the husband thinks about it.  However, I don’t think the men had a problem with that, listening to them talk.  A lot of the husbands do seem to have a problem when the wives don’t ever return to work once the children are school-age.  If the man can afford to support both of them comfortably, the wives seem to get into volunteering, personal hobbies, or maybe a part-time job so they can have some walking-around money for themselves.  Even though many of the men don’t seem to appreciate this, they usually don’t divorce the women because it isn’t worth the financial hit or losing full access to their kids. 

      3. 24.3.3
        Karmic Equation

         

        As a 47 yo woman who can no longer have children, and don’t see the benefits of marriage because I typically date lower-earning men, I completely get what Chance and Jeremy are getting at.
         
        If I don’t want/can’t have children, why would I need to marry? (I’m presuming most men who don’t want/can’t have children think this way) — So of if you want children, you need to stay away from these men, not because they’re bad, but because they have different life goals than you.
         
        And if you earn more money than a man, why marry when you can just live together and keep your finances (401k, investments, savings, etc), separate without fighting about it? 
         
        If I marry, I’m going to have to insist on a pre-nup. I’m sure that would be as much a buzzkill to the guy as to a woman who is requested to sign such a thing. Luckily, my financial advisor said he would play the heavy for me if I ever decide to marry again :)
         
        So for me, as a high-earning woman, who can have NSA relationships, why commit to (e.g., “marry”) a low-earning man, ever? So that I can have “committed” sex? How exactly does the commitment benefit me?
         
        Once you don’t need a father/mother for your children, you don’t “need” marriage if you earn more money than the one you’re dating. Living together is a logical alternative.
         
        Marriage has been made out to be a “romantic” notion for a long time, because there is a HUGE industry behind weddings – limos, florists, bakeries, banquet halls, vacation destinations, church tithings, etc. — and there is another huge industry behind failed or failing marriages – marriage counselors, divorce lawyers, etc.
         
        Marriage nowadays is a commercial/economic undertaking (e.g., tax breaks) — so if you don’t need the tax breaks, you really don’t need marriage either, unless for religious reasons, and, of course, if you plan to have children. Don’t buy in to the romantic claptrap about marriage and you’ll be a lot happier you’re single.

         

        1. Chance

          Well said, Karmic, well said.  From start to finish.  I’d like to add that being in an LTR doesn’t preclude one from sharing his/her wealth with the lower-earning partner, which is what I happily do all of the time.  It simply protects you from having to keep giving once the relationship has dissolved, especially in states that don’t recognize common law marriage – yes, I’ve looked into this :)
           
          If a man ever balks at your suggestion to sign a pre-nup, you can simply (and correctly) point out to him that a marriage certificate is just as much a piece of unromantic legal paperwork, which happens to entitle him to half of your hard-earned assets and possibly even your future income.  However, the best course of action would be to dump him on the spot because anyone who refuses to sign a pre-nup has just shown his/her hand.  Besides, there is always the issue of enforceability, and you will likely have to spend a metric f-ton in legal fees when it gets contested. 

        2. Jeremy

          Agreed, Karmic.  And this leads me to, once again, question the wisdom of cohabitation as a stepping stone for marriage.  Whichever individual wants the commitment (whether it be the man or the woman) will not behave the same during the “trial run” as they would once they have that commitment.

          Case in point – one of the most common complaints that married people have is that their spouse stopped wanting to have sex (or drastically reduced the frequency of sex) after marriage.  This is most commonly the woman, though can also be the man (more rarely).  This would NEVER happen if the couple was cohabitating as a trial run for marriage.  Why? Because anyone (and especially any woman) who turns off sex before the marriage can pretty much be assured that the marriage won’t happen.  But after marriage they can do what they like, and if their spouse doesn’t like it they can leave, resulting in cash and prizes for the lower income spouse.  There is a reason why women initiate 70-80% of divorces! and take alimony in 95% of cases….

          it is not that I think cohabitation is wrong.  I just don’t think it is educational, any more than the good behaviour a child shows when they want the cookie you are holding. 

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          Jeremy – in theory, what you wrote makes sense. In practice, it falls apart. How long do you think people can keep a mask on? One year, maybe. But, for the most part, people are going to be themselves. And they’re going to get comfortable. And the mask is going to slip. Which is why I think people (who are not in their late 30’s) should date for two years, THEN move in, and THEN if that goes well, get engaged. Everyone’s mask will have slipped. Everyone’s bad habits will have showed. Everyone’s sexual proclivities will have outed themselves. Now you can see if you’re truly compatible as a married couple. Problem is that everyone wants to rush into marriage out of fear or passion. Slow and steady wins the race – and that includes people who cohabitate and break up. This is a GOOD thing and it saves you from a future divorce.

  25. 25
    Yes to Cohabiting

    I wholeheartedly agree that cohabiting before marriage is a smart move for couples. Studies claiming that cohabiting before marriage more likely leads to divorce in comparison those who live separately are hogwash. Yes, research shows that couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect. But why? The answer lies in the data.

    Many researchers who claim that cohabiting leads to divorce most likely have not attempted to analyze all factors that may account for their findings. As a social researcher, I have been taught the importance of controlling for various factors when examining relationships between two constructs (i.e. analyzing cohabitation and likelihood of divorce, and controlling for the factors that may mediate that relationship). For instance, age is an important factor that researchers may not include in their analyses. Once you control for the age variable, the correlation between divorce and cohabitation disappears. Why?  Couples are settling down at an earlier age, and settling down too young is what leads to divorce.

    I think back to many 18 year-olds who moved in with their boyfriends when they went away for college. Duh! These young girls moved in on a whim. I guarantee they did not communicate their expectations before moving in together! I had a friend whose (now) fiancé “sorta moved in after the first date” in her words. They never had a conversation about it. None months later, she complained to me that he wasn’t paying the rent. They argued. He punched walls when he was upset. He went to work when he felt like it (his parents own a business), and he cheated on her when they were having problems. So what did she do? She got pregnant. He wasn’t happy about it. He cheated on her again. And of course, due to external pressure from family members and friends, he proposed. It was the “right” thing for him to do. Yet, she constantly complains about him. Anyone can see that this relationship has an unstable foundation, yet she doesn’t see it. 

    It is called  “sliding, not deciding.” Couples move to the next step without even a conversation about it. They bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean for them. Sliding IN may be fun and exciting for a young couple, but sliding OUT does not occur. It’s more like climbing a mountain. So young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later. 

    My conclusion? For so many decades, researchers have led us to believe that cohabitation leads to divorce, but those earlier findings were a result of poor measurement. Those findings, therefore, are not valid. Ultimately, I believe It’s important to discuss each person’s motivation and commitment level beforehand and, even better, to view cohabitation as an intentional step toward, rather than a convenient test for, marriage or partnership. So moving in at 18 or after 2 months into a relationship may not be a good idea. But moving in after a year of dating and discussing the practical aspects of a relationship (i.e. the reason for moving together) could lead to a wonderful marriage.

    1. 25.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Triple Like. Apart from the point that moving in after 18 months or 2 years is too long. It’s not. It’s just right.

      1. 25.1.1
        Yes to Cohabiting

        Oops. I meant to say “18 years of age or 2 months into a relationship.” I firmly believe that between couples who cohabit, being young and/or cohabiting during the early stages of a relationship are what damage relationships, not simply cohabiting. In my opinion, it is ludicrous to make blanket statements that cohabiting increases the likelihood of divorce. It is best to parse out that relationship between cohabitation and divorce to examine why that relationship exists and whether other factors contribute to the “noise” in that relationship, so to speak. 

        I, myself, have moved in with my significant other after a year and 3 months. Whether or not my relationship works out, I must say that– after living together for 9 months–it is one of the best decisions I have made in my relationship. 

  26. 26
    Morris

    “For instance, age is an important factor that researchers may not include in their analyses. Once you control for the age variable, the correlation between divorce and cohabitation disappears. Why?  Couples are settling down at an earlier age, and settling down too young is what leads to divorce.”

    Where you got that information?  If it was as simple as being too young than what you are saying is cohabitation has no positive/negative impact on divorce.  If you get married too young you increase your chances of a divorce.  If you cohabit before marrying too young you increase your chances of a divorce.  I don’t necessarily disagree with that but it doesn’t really prove/disprove your point on cohabiting being a net positive.  Scientifically.

    Intuitively I get how cohabiting is appealing to many people.  But I can’t shake the feeling that some of the post make it seem like there are NO downsides to cohabitation.

    I’ve known a few couples who have called it off after living together.  Couples I thought would be happily married.  And the reasons for calling it off on the surface sounded reasonable.  But not really reasonable if they were married and wanted to file for divorce.

    Meaning there are things you will try really hard to work through if married that you just wouldn’t if you were single looking for the perfect partner.  And that is how it should be.  Marriage is special and one should go the extra mile to make it work.  Similarly, after you have children your marriage is taken, yet again, to another level.  And you try to make it work even harder.

    Do your homework on your partner before getting married.  I can’t image after dating for a while and practically living together.(At least that is how my relationships tend to be.)  There is something you ‘missed’ that you would have caught if living together(not just practically living together) that is so HUGE you would divorce that person if married.

    Obviously people feel really passionate about this topic.  I think that’s a good thing and they should listen to their gut.  No one size fits all.

    1. 26.1
      Yes to Cohabiting

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/divorce-cohabitation-stud_n_4936928.html

      How are you defining net positive? 

      I don’t think cohabiting is a “silver bullet” or panacea. It doesn’t make people immune to divorce. It may force people to recognize what they are getting themselves into. 
      The point of this particular study was to examine whether cohabiting increases the likelihood of divorce. The above article mentions that cohabiting does not increase one’s chances of divorce, as many believe. The researcher did not attempt to delve further. Only future research will determine whether cohabiting leads to “net positives,” however they may define that. 

      Yes, there are downsides to cohabitation. But the losses incurred from a divorce are much worse. Two people may stay longer together than they should, due to sharing a lease, inertia, and other factors but isn’t it easier to get out of a relationship than a marriage? 

      I am cohabiting with my significant other. We had several crucial conversations before making the leap. If you ask me, I’d rather find my own place if things don’t work out than have to go through the ordeal of a divorce. If things do work out, I will be happy to enter a marriage with both eyes open and both feet firmly on the ground. 

      1. 26.1.1
        Morris

        Read it and it made sense.  Thank you.  If people are comfortable with it go for it.  I was more concerned with some posts(not necessarily yours) that make it seem like every couple should do it and there was no potential downsides.  Like I said.  I’ve seen good relationships end because of issues that wouldn’t make a marriage end.(Usually men ending the relationship btw.)  So you might end up losing a great guy because you wanted to try and live together first.

  27. 27
    Paula

    I had to comment about Christine’s post #4. I’m sorry but lots of men cohabit with women and it leads…no where. To me I would never move in with a man unless we talked about marriage and I would have to be engaged. If he isn’t interested, I will either continue happily dating him or pull back and think about how I feel about the relationship. My longterm goal is marriage and I do not believe we should pressure men but if I am not seeing steps that he is serious about us, I will step back to see if it’s worth my time to continue spending my valuable time with a man who isn’t sure about wanting me. Yes think about it and your life goals but at some point that uncertainty is just an excuse. There are many men who meet a woman and want to settle down after a few months of dating. Don’t let a man say he has doubts as an excuse. When men want to settle down, damn it they do and there is nothing you can do to stop them. A lot of men use the excuse of marriage being a risk and then suggest the living together but they never had the intention to go any further. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Trust me when they want to settle down, they won’t use this whole ‘let’s move in together’ BS. They claim you early on

    1. 27.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Since we heard this ridiculousness a second time, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I figured I’d give an answer.

      Because he wants a cow.

      Good men marry because they want to get married, not because of societal (or girlfriend-based) pressure. Any man who marries due to pressure, well, let’s say you can probably choose a better husband. So can we dismiss of this inane “cow” excuse once and for all?

      1. 27.1.1
        Julia

        I’m not so sure why women will so eagerly refer to themselves as property that provides a product for a charge.

        A man marries a woman because he loves her, wants to spend his life with her because his life is better with than without her. Not because she is withholding “milk” aka sex, being cared for. 

        1. Isa

          All human relationships are transactions. I’ve seen in action how quickly holding out leads to marriage (generally under a year). Ultimate stability? TBD, but the girl and the guy did get what they wanted.  Horridly cynical perhaps, but it is hard to shake a German engineering family background.  The lot of us unromantic graphing calculators!

  28. 28
    Jenn

    Evan, just because you don’t believe in the validity of that statement, that doesn’t make it untrue. There’s a reason that saying has survived for so long: because more often than not, if given the chance, men will give women less effort and commitment than women want. And why should they, if women are not requiring them to step up? It’s a fact that usually, more women than men want to be married (and sooner – on the whole, guys don’t seem to start panicking about marriage until they hit their late 30s/40s). You’re making it sound as if most guys who ask women to move in are doing so as a precursor to marriage. Sorry, but that just isn’t true. 

    1. 28.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “You’re making it sound as if most guys who ask women to move in are doing so as a precursor to marriage.” Actually, Jenn, you’re wrong. I’m not even going to pretend to be diplomatic when someone says something UNTRUE. If memory serves properly, two thirds of all couples move in together before they get married. And presumably, there are couples like you who never want to live together before marriage. Sounds to me like a whole lot of men are, in fact, moving in with their girlfriends as a precursor to marriage. Unless you think the 50 million men who are married in the US who chose to move in with their girlfriends all got married after lots of threatening and cajoling. Jenn, you can do whatever you want with your life. Just stop giving your personal opinions as if they are facts.

      1. 28.1.1
        Isa

        Ug do you not get the point? If moving together *was* signalling marriage, why do so many people live with multiple partners before perhaps tying the knot?  The point is, all these roommates with benefits situations do not help advance a woman if marriage is her ultimate goal, as most women tend to want to make said man happy and not pressure (-_-) him about commitment.
        The ultimate point is that merely moving in is not a stable condition. I’ve seen too many of my girlfriends (or guys) get kicked out at a moments notice, and then have to bum around of other people for a couch.  It’s especially nice if the person being kicked out has minors in tow.
        Of course, differences in behavior may be very class based.  My acquaintances and relatives in the lower quartile? Highly unstable, low rate of marriage, multiple living together arrangements where the couple are referred to as “husband and wife.” Upper quartile? No living together until post commitment (formal or informal depending on wedding funding abilities). Perhaps 1 or 2 people with multiple live ins before marriage/permanent partnerships.  Overall, much more stable.
        Just because something is becoming incredibly more common doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad side effects later down the road (i.e. 1 or 2 generations). Pesticides are a pretty good case study for that.
         

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Isa:

          “If moving together *was* signalling marriage, why do so many people live with multiple partners before perhaps tying the knot?”

          Because they tried living together and discovered they’d be incompatible spouses. Sounds to me like living together was a GOOD thing, as it prevented an eventual divorce. Remember, the goal isn’t to get a ring. It’s to be happily married. And if living together for a year indicates to one or more parties that they wouldn’t be happily married, then I’d say that’s for the best. Wondering how you can disagree with this.

          And pesticides? Save a metaphor that works. Living together doesn’t hurt couples. Incompatibility does.

        2. Isa

          I am quite aware of the goal. I was responding to the overall tone  of the thread that indicated that moving in was the only/best way to do things and people who thought otherwise were well…  as well as some of the ideas that moving in is signalling something specific.  The multitude of opinions and values circulating at present means it doesn’t signal anything in my opinion, other than a change of location. 
           
          As per pesticides, I worked the fields in the summer once I was old enough to drive the combine, so I didn’t mean pesticides = moving in = death.  More that immediate  benefits can have hidden side effects, which can be on balance better to deal with than use nothing.  The cost/benefits analysis is tricky.  The timeline also fits neatly (mid-century huge shift in a fundamental way of doing things necessary to sustain life). 
           
          Besides, nothing is truly known until enough time has passed to get valid data.  The dating/courting/marriage dynamics shifted so radically and swiftly in the west that it is impossible to say anything with any certainty.

        3. Jenn

          I don’t understand how you can say that moving in together doesn’t hurt couples if they break up. How is that even possible? When a relationship ends (as most do if they don’t result in marriage), that means at least one partner is left hurt, confused and maybe even devastated. That goes double when people move in together, because it’s usually seen by at least one party in the relationship (most often the woman), as a step toward marriage. Breakups of live-in partners can cause a ton of hurt, especially if the hope was that living together would lead to marriage. Then the baggage from those breakups gets dragged into each subsequent relationship. I fail to see how that isn’t hurtful. It’s better to guard your heart from the wrong person by getting to know them for a long time before any clothes are strewn on the floor, and especially before any leases are signed. That is the only way to know if you are truly compatible. Spend a lot of time getting to know each other as people – that is the key to figuring out whether or not two people are a good fit for each other. Everything else can be worked on, but if there isn’t a true meeting of the minds along with the physical attraction, then there’s no point even being with that person. 

           You misinterpreted what I said when I asserted that most people do not necessarily move in together specifically to “test” each other as potential marriage partners. A lot of the time, it’s more like “Well, I don’t really want to get married right now, but yeah, let’s just try living together for a while and see what happens.” Then they might live together for a few years, get comfortable and think that since things aren’t absolutely terrible, getting married would be a good idea. That’s what I meant when I said that there are not a lot of couples who use living together as a specific precursor to marriage. Many of them either break up long before they ever make it to the altar, thus creating more baggage each time they live with someone, or they live together indefinitely, never making a more serious commitment. Sure, people who live together can have good marriages. I’m not saying that it’s not possible; it’s just that it’s far more likely that it doesn’t happen that way. 

          Besides, I think if someone needs to “try before they buy”, then they’re not 100% committed to their relationship anyway.  

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          Jenn-

          Moving in isn’t the cause of breaking up. Incompatibility is the cause of breaking up. Your suggestion that people should get married, THEN move in – only to later find out that they’re incompatible – will only lead to divorce. Is that a better outcome than living together and breaking up? I don’t think so.

          You say the only way to know if you’re truly compatible is to NOT live together and that any issues that come from living together can be worked on. That is some ostrich-in-the-sand thinking right there. It’s like you want it to be true so much that you’re convincing yourself it’s true, even though it makes no sense whatsoever.

          The only thing about which you’re correct is that some people move in together because they don’t know what else to do. My advice: don’t move in with someone who isn’t clear that he wants to get married one day. Problem solved.

          Unfortunately, you leave on another pie-in-the-sky unrealistic note that if someone needs to “try before they buy” they’re not 100% committed to the relationship. You’re right. That is the VERY POINT OF DATING FOR TWO YEARS AND MOVING IN TOGETHER – to figure out if you’re 100% committed. To ask someone to be 100% committed before he knows he’s 100% committed is like wanting the sky to be red because you prefer red. That’s why long courtships and cohabitation are a good idea – to make sure that both parties are 100% committed BEFORE they get married. Christ, this is tiring.

        5. Jenn

          Evan, we are just going to have to agree to disagree, it seems. Incompatibility has less to do with whether or not you can live with a person on a day-to-day basis, and more to do with whether or not your personalities mesh well, your goals for your future together are similar, and you have the same values and consistent beliefs about important things (i.e. parenting). You seem to be operating under the assumption that two people can spend a year or more in an exclusive relationship, and somehow be  completely oblivious to any glaring red flags or inconsistencies concerning compatibility. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, because there are people who do ignore things. I’m saying that just because that’s what happens to some people, that doesn’t mean that people who choose not to cohabit can’t live happily together after marriage. Just because they haven’t shared the same address doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely impossible to figure out how compatible they are. True commitment doesn’t come from figuring out whether or not you can stand living with someone, it comes from how much you love them and want to be with them. I think you are way off on this, and I think that any intelligent person who pays close attention to their relationship can figure it out without having to test anything. 

          Overall, I think you give very sound advice and I absolutely love to read your blogs. They are always very intelligent, insightful and mostly on the mark. But on this, we are just never going to agree (which is fine, because how fun would life be if everyone always agreed on everything?). It’s always good to hear from you and thanks for your perspective! 

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          @Jenn

          “You seem to be operating under the assumption that two people can spend a year or more in an exclusive relationship, and somehow be completely oblivious to any glaring red flags or inconsistencies concerning compatibility.” I never said completely oblivious. I only said you will know more about someone after two years than one year, and more about someone after living together than before living together.

          “I’m saying that just because that’s what happens to some people, that doesn’t mean that people who choose not to cohabit can’t live happily together after marriage.”
          I didn’t say that either. I hope you can understand why it’s so difficult to defend things I haven’t said. I got married before moving in, so obviously it CAN be done. Is it the BEST idea? Not in my opinion.

          “True commitment doesn’t come from figuring out whether or not you can stand living with someone, it comes from how much you love them and want to be with them.” Sorry, love. If you can’t stand living with someone, you probably shouldn’t have a commitment to him. Better to figure that out before the rings and ceremony than after. Do as you wish. I wish you luck either way.

  29. 29
    Ellie

    Firstly would like to convey how much I really like/value Evan Marc Katz insights!….no sorry  I mean absolutely love them!…….
    Well the right path involves a white dress and a big cake! for a lot of ladies lol! …

    Seriously though,woman have stopped setting the bar high! (sleep around alot) 
    men dont want to marry sluts do they?! ;-(

    To be that the girl worthy and in possession of good morals, would help getting the man you respect/like/love being interested in a proper committment  regardless of living together first or not etc

    Of course in order to have a functioning relationship long term there needs to be enough 

    1.stability, 
    2.actual caring and other more sensible factors, 

    It is not the 1950’s anymore and all the more harder I feel – …eg Men are no longer Men, and Women are no longer Women- Somewhere along the lines our culture decided to switch gender roles around. We began teaching men to be “nice”, to be accommodating and to “get in touch with their feminine side.” Masculinity was derided and discouraged, even labeled brutish and primitive. Meanwhile, women were taught to be strong, independent and proud. Feminine behavior and attitudes, like a quiet, gentle spirit, were discouraged in women. In short, men were taught to act like women and women were taught to act like men.While the woman would learn her best bet is to not acquiesce to fast!!.

    Courtship has descended into dating which descended into hooking up!! ;-(.

    So if ladies you want (me too) marriage minded men you are right avoid those whom are happy to be wishy washy passing the time on the fence re ‘dating’…

    Men that live a luxury or above average lifestyle in my intelligence play around. 
    therefore we need to get back to COURTING not DATING, Dating has sadly lead to HOOKING UP CULTURE! ;-(

    But to move in or not move in, my view after weighing up both sides fully is….as Evan states you could end up missing out on a fantastic guy this way!…..so at least be somewhat open to it!….

    1. 29.1
      Isa

      Rather schizophrenic. So girls should act like 1950’s ladies instead of slutting around but also move in with people…?  The only way to get respect (speaking as a woman) is to be consistent.  You are a liberated woman of the 21st century? Don’t expect a ring and a white dress. You want equality, so you get equality.  In all ways.  You are a traditional woman?  You’re probably going to get whatever said man thinks you should get, and are expected to be happy with it. Bluntly, your kept virtue holds the purse strings.  The middle is not philosophically consistent (or at all compatible) and will not hold.  Pick a side, and stick to it.

  30. 30
    Ellie

    Whoa!…..not so fast!…… never said I wanted equality!…….there must be ‘EQUITY’ in a R/ship not ‘EQUALITY’….
    (Woman are silly to pretend they are equal to men! men and woman are not the same and never will be – We (men and woman) compliment each other!,but are not the same!….
    We bring different roles to the table etc 
    Relationships need HONESTY, when you have established honesty and openness
    in said R/ship then it is ok to move in only after you know that other person is OPEN HONEST AND CARING… 
    I would lean towards the side (as you put it > Pick a side etc) and stick to it) If I hadn’t seen
    that not one way achieves the desired result a happy ever after with ‘The One’….
    I would much prefer to not move in until marriage but the world has changed too much (and not for the better) so I feel I will negotiate to get what I want….
    Many woman who date divorced men will find they are once bitten twice shy,they have  often learnt from the Frivorce and its taught them to Proceed with caution and thus I feel that there is merit to Evan saying you could miss out on someone buy doing the Marriage first or else way!..
    Men don’t like pressure do they? ;-( 
     
     
     

    1. 30.1
      Isa

      Oh, I didn’t mean that you wanted equality in all things, but rather that that is the goal from a certain radical post modern/feminist perspective.  Obviously a bit misguided, as all people are equal in dignity and equal of the same amount of respect, but equality in that sense doesn’t mean *sameness*. I could no more be a painter than my partner a yoga instructor! Also I can only speak for women (as I am one), and the type of behavioral choices we can make.  How men respond? Up to them and not really worth worrying about, as it is outside of our control.
       
      BTW sorry about the frivorcing thing.  I have seen how much damage it does, as people were sold a bill of goods about “the one” and “everlasting romantic lurv.” People should spend time trying to be content (not happy, emotions are uncontrollable) and improve their relationship with their partner rather than searching for something to “complete” them.
       
       

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