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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
I have been dating a man on and off for 3 years. We have decided to move in together and blend our families. We both have children. The issues I am having is that we argue over the smallest things and they turn into huge items that result in him calling me names and accusing me of infidelity, ignoring me and so forth. When we disagree, I feel like I am defending myself, and thus do have a tendency to talk over him in an effort to prove my innocence. He has indicated he will always one up me whether it is negative or positive. I feel we have more negative interactions than positive ones lately. There has been trust and insecurity issues in our relationship on both our parts and now I feel we have lost all respect for each other. My kids aren’t overly happy for the most part either because they do not feel he treats me well. I love him with all my heart and do not want to be without him, but I don’t feel our communication will change. What should I do?  

Michelle  

I’ve written about cohabiting multiple times. My take is that it is a vital step — the single best way to road test a marriage before you get married.

When I write this, there are generally two objections:

  1. “I don’t want to live with a man because if I live with him, he won’t feel any incentive to marry me.” It’s true that men who don’t want to get married will live with you indefinitely and waste your time. However, nobody said to move in with a man who doesn’t want to get married. What I’m saying is that if you DO want to get married, start by dating ONLY marriage-oriented men. When it’s time consider the next step (after 18-24 months), you move in together. If living together for six months is a positive experience, you should expect a ring shortly thereafter. Remember, a man who wants to get married is dating you for the same reason you’re dating him — to figure out if marriage is in your future. My wife never had to pressure me to move things forward. Our goals were the same. The only thing unknown was whether we’d have a future.

What I’m saying is that if you DO want to get married, start by dating ONLY marriage-oriented men.

  1. “I don’t want to live with a man because old studies (that have long aftereffects) show that marriages that follow cohabitation fail at higher rates.” I’ve written about this before and I feel those are mostly outdated studies. The problem is generally that people move in and get married two quickly and for the wrong reasons. They move in together because they’re young, impulsive, passionate, trying to save money, coming from long-distance relationships. And despite the flaws of the relationship that they’ve already recognized by cohabiting, inertia and fear keeps them going. Next thing you know, they get married and realize that, yep, they’ve got the same problems they did before, but now they’re amplified because the issues are intractable and they are locked in for life.

In other words, you’re lucky, Michelle, that you moved in with this guy — otherwise you’d have no other way to realize he’d be a terrible husband.

Your solution isn’t in improved communication; it’s not your job to change a man who calls you names, accuses you of infidelity, and doesn’t treat you well.

It’s not your job to change a man who calls you names, accuses you of infidelity, and doesn’t treat you well.

Your solution is to leave ASAP and find yourself a man committed to your happiness.

I hope you find the courage to do so, lest you become another statistic about a divorced woman who lived with her boyfriend before getting married and ignored the warning signs.