Should You Live With Your Boyfriend Before You Get Married?

husband and wife cooking together in the kitchen

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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  1. 1

    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.

    1. 1.1

      Thanks for sharing. I’m in a long distance relationship, which just started about 2 months ago and we are the same age as you and your boyfriend are and my boyfriend wants to cohabit when I relocate back to the city I previous left and I’m kind of leery about doing something of this magnitude because I’m not sold on the idea of living together, even though he is trying to convince me it would be a great decision to live together and see one another, not to mention to come home to someone you love or care about. (We’ve know each other for 5 months, have been virtually inseparable since then)

    2. 1.2
      Chris Hale

      Are You going to marry Him? While you guys are still in the Honeymoon phase of your relationship? Because sometimes couples live together so long before they get married and then there is nothing to look forward too. I’ve been living with my girlfriend for 9 months and She still wants to wait to get married…But in general it kind of sucks because what if She never wants to marry or he never wants to marry and that person waisted all that time or even sacrifice or compromised their spiritual relationship in hopes to get married. When a couple live together for a very long time before getting married…it’s like opening a Christmas present and you already know what’s inside.

  2. 2

    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

    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

      Mark is absolutely correct regarding “chemistry”   as in illusion and how relationships go from bliss she [email protected]#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 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

    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

        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

        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

      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

        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

        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.

        2. Lee

          Prenuptial agreements? What’s wrong with this world today? My parents never lived together or as  people  today call it  testing  the  waters before they got  married. They met dated fell in love got married and had a family. Their marriage lasted  until  my dad died. This discussion are no t for Christians  because  we don’t test the waters before marriage. It’s so sad that some  people  are so self centered today that they cannot learn to get along and compromise in marriage. So sad. Marriage is a lifelong commitment to the  same  person and  we all are  not alike  that’s what makes life  interesting. We just need to know how to get along and be selfless by  putting  the other’s  needs  first.

      3. 4.2.3

        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

        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.   

        3. Jenn

          Moving in can be a huge financial risk. Why would someone want to uproot their lives for a non-commitment. A lot of people are happy to live together without ever intending to get married. Also, in a marriage, property is shared. Everything is “ours”, Not “mine” and “yours”. I, personally, do not want to move and move and move; making changes in my life hoping to one day procure a commitment from someone who no longer has much of an incentive to commit.

          Also, as far as the “Huge financial risk” that I hear most men talk about….I doubt that the men who are screaming about it do actually have much of a financial risk. In my divorce, I as the harder-working spouse, lost everything….but my ex did give up things in order for me to have the freedom to work as I chose. That’s life, we were committed, we made choices in our lives based on that commitment….things changed. If he I were just living together, by the way, there is no legal protection covering if one person has to sacrifice more….In dating I have met many men who pay alimony, and for the most part, it was because they wanted a stay-at-home wife who could have time and energy for them during the limited time that they were available for her…..None of those men are resentful, because they made the choice and they could afford it. I have met poorer guys who don’t really pay that much, but the problem is that they make so little it leaves them with hardly enough for themselves–this is a problem, but does not apply to most people. If you, as a guy, know that you cannot afford a woman in that way, then make the right decisions before getting married ( but you have to be fair about it. If you are asking the other person to give up something, you cannot leave them stranded if things don’t work out).   The truth is, life a couple of workaholics doesn’t seem like much fun, but if you are more worried about possibly paying in the future, then that is the best option.

      2. 4.3.2

        I know this is a old post, but I totally agree with Christine and Dina.   Women do not need to audition to become a wife.   If a man tells a women he wants to grow old with them, then marriage is the next step, not cohabitation with a ‘test drive’.

    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

    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

      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

        @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

    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?

      1. 6.1.1

        I agree.   I used to think differently, but I decided to move in with my boyfriend prior to engagement.   This isn’t about making sure I “get the ring” – I’m not afraid of not closing the deal.   My SO and I openly discussed marriage ahead of time and have every intention of that being our destination, BUT the adjustment period of sharing a life with someone is much different when you’re not at each other’s house with a bag and your dog, but every single thing you own in addition to your flaws and emotional baggage/quirks.   You learn a lot about them and, if you’re honest, learn more about yourself.

        Figuring this out without the pressure of having wedding invitations out to our family and friends or a large financial investment on my finger allows me – us – the ability to work towards my – our- goal of having an enriching life and stable home.

      2. 6.1.2


        Its wrong for you to say “its foolish to get married before living together”. Do you know that in the average African setting, its actually foolish for you to live together before marriage”. Westernization has remodeled a lot.

        Before you make some comments, i think you should put into consideration some tribes, religious views and traditional views.

        Many people who are in love definitely want to move in with their spouse already but family laws and traditions sometimes makes it impossible.

        Personally, I don’t think I want to taste any waters before marriage. All you need to know can happen in the number of time invested into each other. The days you meet, the days you are with his family, the days he is with his friend, the days you go on outings, you are in a gathering, his religious activities, the weekends you spend around. Why would I move in with him for 1year because I want to know him better? What happened to giving him space or giving him a reason to be married when he already feels married.

        Men on this platform asking for the lady to move in first are only people who have issues of trust or family issues. A man with a strong family value wont request for such.

    2. 6.2

      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

    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

        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.

      2. 7.1.2

        Evan you mention the decision to marry before co-habiting comes from a place of fear. Well the only way a woman can be 100% confident about her relationship (when marriage is her goal) is when her boyfriend has made his marriage intentions to her crystal clear (AKA engaged). Explain to me exactly how a woman is supposed to have confidence in a man who is not sure about marrying her UNTIL he has lived with her? Clearly that suggests a 50/50 chance. I agree with Marie. I am not particularly against co-habiting before marriage. But it should be very clear which direction the relationship is heading towards. Co-habitation should be the next step AFTER a couple have come to a consensus that all things being equal this is something they would want forever! I think if a woman proceeds with this guideline she will be able to adequately screen out men who have no intentions of marriage and simply want to co-habit for the wrong reasons; while co-habiting with the right men for the right reasons – testing the waters to see if our intentions of getting married is feasible!

      3. 7.1.3

        Again, I do not understand how you could advise women to wait for commitment (before he is your boyfriend) before having sex if she doesn’t want to be fucked and dumped and then go ahead to advise the same woman to co-habit before a commitment (marriage) if she doesn’t want to cook, clean, etc and dumped. That sounds like a double standard.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Actually, it sounds like you have a reading comprehension problem.

          1. If you have trouble having sex without commitment, don’t. That will spare you the pain of sleeping with a dude who is still on Tinder and keeping your fingers crossed that becomes your boyfriend.

          This statement stands alone and has no bearing on the other piece of advice:

          2. Live with someone before marrying to ensure that you are compatible instead of marrying and keeping your fingers crossed that you’re compatible. Notice the common thread is putting wishful thinking ahead of rational thinking. Moving in with a marriage-oriented man does not mean you “cook and clean” for him. It means you try marriage on for size and see how it feels before you do it. If you disagree, it’s because you probably moved in with a non-marriage-oriented man, cooked and cleaned for him and he took advantage of that. That’s your story but it’s not universal. Moving in with someone is the best way to simulate marriage before you take the plunge. If you choose to take the plunge with your fingers crossed, by all means, go ahead. Just don’t put words in my mouth or misinterpret what I’m saying because you don’t understand it.

        2. Karmic Equation

          It’s too bad the “search” feature in this blog doesn’t allow you to search for a Poster’s names. There was a great post by Fusee about this.

          In a nutshell, what she did–(she was single when started commenting on this blog, then met her guy, then got married to that guy, in the year or so that she was a regular commenter on this blog)–She moved in with the guy with the EXPLICIT agreement that they decide after 3 months (maybe it was a tad longer than 3 months) — whether they’ll get married or not.

          If not, they go their separate ways. If yes, they continue cohabitating with the date set.

          So yes, you can cohabitate BEFORE marriage if and your bf agree that it’s for a limited time and the reason for it is to ascertain compatibility for REAL marriage.

          Maybe Evan can find Fusee’s post and link to it for you.

        3. eva

          In the same way Evan, if a woman has sex with a man before he becomes her boyfriend and she gets dumped, that’s HER story but not universal. What makes a man a marriage oriented man if he hasn’t explicitly expressed any interest in marrying you? I just want you to see how analogous the two principles are. And for the record I have never lived with any boyfriend! Neither do I engage in casual sex. This is an argument, not an account of my life.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          “What makes a man a marriage oriented man if he hasn’t explicitly expressed any interest in marrying you?”

          He says that he wants to get married. That’s what makes him a marriage oriented man. It may take him 2 years to know if he wants to marry you, but at least you’re not investing time in someone who never wants to be married.

        5. eva

          Yes. So while he figures that out I’m going to remain at my place, the same way I’m going to keep my legs closed while he figures it out if he wants to be my boyfriend. Co-habitation makes sense only if we have discussed and intend to get married. This is just my contribution and view as well!! Thank you very much!!!

        6. Tom10

          @ Karmic Equation
          “Maybe Evan can find Fusee’s post and link to it for you.”
          I just used my secret search algorithm and found it. Scroll down 9 comments on this thread 😉  
          Sorry I just couldn’t resist Karmic!  

        7. Karmic Equation

          Dammit, Tom. I thought we were friends.

          I didn’t think to use the browser search on the page, just the search at the top. lol

          I was just testing  to see if you were still paying attention to me 😉

      4. 7.1.4

        “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.”

        I’ll keep my response short because I’m a brand new member of Love U and really need to head on over to start the first module, but I was sidetracked by this article and the comments.   All I will say is that I wish with all my heart that my ex and I had “tried it out” before getting married, but no, I insisted we be married first because, to me, cohabiting was “wrong.”   And now I will regret the past 5 wasted years for the rest of my life. I will email you privately EMK because I have a question for you, but in the meantime just know that I wish I had discovered you before 5 years ago.   Pretty much everything you’ve said in knowing how to identify the WRONG guy was what I was facing, but by golly I was going to make it WORK.   5 wasted years.   Cohabiting would have prevented them because I knew within a month (less!) that marriage was a mistake, and we had already known/dated/broken up/reconciled for 6 years by that point.   At a gut level I still think cohabitation is fraught with danger of sorts, but I would and will do it if I ever get to that safe/secure/heard point.   No more insisting on marriage from me.   I’m just trying to move forward and not waste any more time regretting the past 5 years.

      5. 7.1.5

        Evan, I get what you are saying.

        When you place conditions, this limits your realm of possibility – the potential for establishing lasting love. We have the power. There’s nothing wrong with making your intentions clear about what you want – marriage. Don’t live with a guy for six years, set a time limit. Kick him to the curb if he doesn’t keep his promise. This is just like dating, except now it’s high-stakes love. Do what is right for your situation.

  8. 8

    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

        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

      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

        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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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

  15. 15

    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

        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

    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

      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

        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. Karmic Equation

          Hey Jeremy. I’ve cohabitated under both  conditions.

          1) Moved in after  about 3 months of dating, where I considered myself unofficially engaged after 6 weeks of dating, when he suggested we elope 🙂 — I knew he wanted children and I was undecided and it took me a year to decide, yes. THEN I set the date, for about 9 months later. — So we cohabitated for about 2 years before marrying. – I initiated the divorce. There were no children. Ironically trying to conceive was the beginning of the end of our marriage.

          2) After our divorce, I cohabitated with a boyfriend for 6 years. His alcoholism finally did us in. If he hadn’t let his alcoholism take over his life, I would still be with him.

          And, maybe this is just me, I felt that I was MORE committed to my bf of 6 years than to my husband through marriage.

          When things went wrong in the marriage, I felt “trapped” — that I couldn’t walk away from our problems. I was “forced” to try to work them out.

          OTOH, with my bf of 6 years, I willingly CHOSE to stay with him and tried to help him through his alcohol dependency.

          If I had been MARRIED to my alcoholic S.O., while I would still have tried to help you solve his problems, I’m pretty sure I would have RESENTED being married to him as my helping him while married was no longer a choice of my making but a responsibility brought on by “that piece of paper”.

          When I try to analyse these paradoxical feelings, I just come to the conclusion that I felt that because I could walk away, but was willing to stay, that was an subconscious indication that I loved my bf MORE than I ever loved my hubby. And that my “love” for my hubby was borne out of duty dictated by marriage and not a “soulful” choice. Or something like that.

          In my current 5-mo-young relationship, one question I keep asking myself is “Would I marry this man if he ever were to ask?” — knowing what I know about how I feel about marriage. And I can’t answer that question with an enthusiastic YES! And I also can’t say NO!

          I guess this means the jury is still out and I just need to let our relationship and personalities unfold. At some point, the answer will be clear. It’s possible I’ll be 80 by then 🙂 But that means we would have had a 30-yr relationship, without marriage, but with commitment. Would that really be so bad?

      2. 16.2.2

        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

        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

    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

    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

    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.

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