Should You Live With Your Boyfriend Before You Get Married?

167 Shares

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.

Join our conversation (167 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 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.

      1. 21.1.1
        Eve

        Living together does not lower the risk of divirce so how is exactly does it protect a man’s finances? If a man is really concerned about this he needs prenup not to live with the woman. The stats presented in this article make no sense in relation to the issue, it compares cohabitation with age instead of cohabitation with non cohabitation. I mean it may be true that younger cohabiting couples are more likely to divorce then older ones but what of older non cohabiting couples where is that data in comparison with the older   non cohabiting ones? Also a 30% divorce rate is quite high (if a man wants to really protect his finances) and as far as I know the lowest divorce rate is among virgin couples ( 5% or less) so I guess if a man really wants to protect himself from divorce he should marry a virgin bride not live with the woman. I see a lot of men defending this whole cohabitation situation it pretty much proves exactly why women should not do it the men have everything to gain and nothing to  lose but then will argue that  women should not be too concerned losing their youth, time, and emotions on  men who are not all that sure about marrying them.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.  

  6. 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

      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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.
        
        

  11. 31
    Ellie

    Re;”So girls should act like 1950”²s ladies instead of slutting around but also move in with people…?”
    I have  never slept with a man that I was not married too (I am 38) and have only now found
    the man I would dearly love  to spend the rest of my life with.(Hes divorced, one child)
    We do other things in bed (Non intercourse)  Because I love him and want to show my love,
    but wish to know if he will be mine before I relinquish said virginity.
    I do not want 25% of a man I want 100%…I am happy to give my all and I expect the same back.
    I was brought up old school and I am trying not to dishonour my parents –   It has not been  easy!!
      
      

    1. 31.1
      Isa

      And now I see the perspective much more clearly! I would say, good on you for that.   Consistent principles and an upright character are probably the most attractive things for long term relationships.   My only comment, if you would live with him, how in the world could you control yourself to not overstep your boundaries? Takes an insanely strong person to do that… I would certainly never be capable 😛 As my partner said, mija when we are married and live together sex 4 times a day is normal! Maybe once the babies come, once a day.   My face was a sight after that little revelation 😀

  12. 32
    Emiko

      
    I know this is a touchy subject and I think we all need to take a step back. Mostly, because I think this post has descended into an insecurity-fest. Just because it worked or didn’t/doesn’t work for you; doesn’t mean it will or will not for someone else.
      
    Have I cohabitated? Yes. Did it work out? No. However, it wouldn’t have worked out regardless of living together or not. At 29 years old I have seen cohabitating relationships work and fail for all sorts of reasons. Often times because of relationship inertia. It is real! And it is often exacerbated by cohabitation. People get married, and DON’T get married over it.
      
    I don’t agree solidly that people should or should not cohabitate. I generally lean towards NOT cohabitating, but that is because the majority of people I talk to (queue the anecdotal evidence) are cohabiting out of convenience and inertia. I would definitely support that couple who is cohabiting as a stepping stone to marriage. What needs to be looked at is people’s reasons. If cohabitating makes you personally more secure in your choice than go ahead and do it. Conversely, the same is true for those who choose not to cohabitate. If being married first makes you more secure than do that. After all, isn’t this debate truly about feeling secure in one’s choice of partner?
      

  13. 33
    Ellie

    Yes with friends who have cohabited first aprox 70% have gone on to pick up the pieces when
    it did not lead to marriage and 30% have married…..Not great odds…
    Re;” if you would live with him, how in the world could you control yourself to not overstep your boundaries”
    Well he respects me, as I so far have no bad history etc…and he takes me more seriously than
    previous GF’s who have had many sexual partners. he says I am special because of it etc
    and he knows I will give it up to him long before any honeymoon….
    I have gotten old because  couldn’t find a good match and also due to 24/7 Caring duties for a loved one which curtailed my life for decade plus  etc)
    He has said, Unless I  am able to commit to you,I do not want to get sexual with you.
    He does not pressure me, He jokes,”It’s like dating a Muslim” lol….
    Also he is open and honest (this is sooo hard to find)  He has had  a lot of sexual partners.
    So I feel I have done my best to be a  decent lady and if I move in at some point, and it does
    not work out,I will only have one sexual partner on the slate,not to bad all things considered.
    He  says  “He never knows if a r/ship will last until hes lived with the woman for two years
    (Prob is I do not really like this I wish to marry and then work very hard of my marriage not be thinking we will “see how it goes”  …I do wish he could be more like me…..well will see how it goes!…..      

  14. 34
    Ellie

    Coitus 4 times a day??..
    *Faints!*
    There would not be much time too do anything else!…
    *Regains Consciousness* 😉
    I agree during first year of marriage  will be a lot!…  I will try my hardest (no matter how tired or unwell I may be feeling I will be generous to my man!  (but I hope a pattern will settle down,
    max 3 times a week!)

  15. 35
    Jen

    Ok, I’ll chime in. I haven’t read all comments because there are a lot of them but I’m getting the feeling a lot of women think they shouldn’t live together before marriage. I felt the same way after my last failed cohabiting agreement didn’t lead to marriage. (Thank god it didn’t!)
      
    However I’ve been in a relationship for about 8 months now that has totally changed my mind. Mr. Perfect and I openly discuss our goals of marriage and family planning. He gets credit for that because he’s shown me what open, honest communication really is and ladies! It’s amazing!
      
    Will I live with him before the ring? Most likely yes. That’s what discussions are leading to but am I worried I’ll never get a ring? Nope, not one tiny bit because we are totally on the same page. If anything he was more marriage minded than I was when we met.
      
    Is there a chance I’ll be blindsided? Sure, anything can happen but I trust this man without a doubt and I know any deal breakers would be a shock to him as well.
      
    So I think that what Evans saying is completely logical. By the time you move in with someone you should be at that point, the point where there is no wondering or fears because that’s all been discussed and worked out. It’s really not a test but getting all the living adjustments out of the way before starting the adjustment of being married is probably a real good idea. I’ve never been married and I know it’s going to be a culture shock for me because I’m so independent so anything the ease that transition is welcomed.  

    1. 35.1
      Julia

      Jen, I am totally in the some boat. Some might think we are naive, I think we are going in with clear heads and without pressuring commitment before its time. Cheers!

      1. 35.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Hmmm…I don’t think you’re in the same boat as Jen. It appears you moved in with your bf without discussing marriage. You’re not living together to “get all the living adjustments out of the way before starting the adjustment of being married”. In Jen’s scenario, she’s confident she’s heading towards marriage after 8 months of dating and she HASN’T YET moved in with him.
          
        I hope it all works out for you Julia. The only caveat is that if you’re “hoping” that living together will lead to marriage you could be in for a disappointment. If you “know” that he plans to marry you (because you have already discussed marriage and he is seriously considering marrying you) — that’s living together first is wise.
          
        Anything else, while no pressure for him, also provides no reassurance to you, who is looking for marriage because you want kids…other than that he loves you enough to live with you and commit to working on a relationship with you. And you’ve taken yourself off the market during some of your most eligible years.

        1. Julia

          Hmmm…I don’t think you’re in the same boat as Jen. It appears you moved in with your bf without discussing marriage. You’re not living together to “get all the living adjustments out of the way before starting the adjustment of being married”

            The conversation I had with him 10 days into dating is that I need to date a man who wants to get married and have children, he told me he knows what I want and is a longterm oriented man. When we began looking for places we discussed our housing needs, one of the agreed needs is 3 bedrooms. One for us, one for his office and one for a future child. We routinely tell one another that we are very sure that we found the one to spend the rest of our lives with. Did I tell him point blank “I will only move in with you if you agree to get engaged after X amount of time” No, I think that is pushy. Does everything we do together point towards us continuing on a path together? yes it absolutely does. I took myself off the market because he has proven himself a man worthy of taking me off the market. I am trusting in his commitment to me, he’s proven worthy of it. Now let’s see how it works out.
            

        2. Jenn

          I just wanted to give my perspective. I’ve never lived with a man but I know people who have lived together. I can say with confidence that it does sound to me like  these situations  are based on a lot of promises rather than actual commitment. Guys will say lots of things when  relationships are new and exciting, but he may feel differently about the relationship after a while. Then you’d feel like you’re stuck because it will have  been ages  and still there’s no ring or wedding date on the table. If I could give any piece of advice that I think is important, it would be to not listen to what a man says, but watch what he does.  Saying  that he’s “long-term oriented” isn’t a true indication that he’s going to propose. Choosing a three-bedroom apartment because of the possibility that it could be turned into a child’s bedroom, isn’t a clear-cut sign that he definitely wants you to be the mother of his kids (that room could just as easily stay as a workout room/media room/den/etc.). Having discussions about marriage isn’t the same as him actually asking you to marry him. I just want women to understand that discussions are fine. But don’t just hang all your hopes on living together as a surefire step toward marriage, especially if there’s no ring or set wedding date. I agree that you should never give a man any timetable as to when he should propose, but it is smart to keep it in the back of your own mind. That way, if he’s not proposing and you have been together for a year or longer, you will not continue to  waste your precious time on a guy who will waste your best years while he continues to drag his feet.

        3. Julia

          Interesting this post was brought up again. For the record, we got engaged at 9 months, without any ultimatums or timelines set by me.

          Anything else, while no pressure for him, also provides no reassurance to you, who is looking for marriage because you want kids…other than that he loves you enough to live with you and commit to working on a relationship with you. And you’ve taken yourself off the market during some of your most eligible years.

          And he took me off the market permanently.

        4. Henriette

          Julia!   I had no idea that you got engaged.   Congratulations, you adorable red panda, you.   I hope you’ll continue to frequent this site even after you’re married

        5. twinkle

          I think in theory, living together before marriage is a good idea, because it lets u know if living together will be, u know, a living HELL. Lol. Or not. Better to find out before marriage!

          I have always been shy and so I haven’t ever shared a room, even with my girlfriends, except on a few occasions back when we were kids on school trips. I got used to this and thus have deliberately avoided holidaying with friends/bfs, so I don’t have to share a room. The problem is, I’ve gotten so used to my personal space that I truly dread this part of being married–the ‘sharing a room’ part. Darn.

          Oh that’s a red panda? I thought it was a raccoon–no wonder it looked a bit different from the raccoons I’ve seen. It is flipping adorable.  

      2. 35.1.2
        Jen

        Julia: I’m not looking to burst your bubble but honestly, when we do move in I will have no problem discussing timelines either. I won’t feel like it’s pressuring him…and if he thought I was sitting around wondering “when will he propose?!” he would be upset that I didn’t just ask or tell him what I want. That’s the point where you’re truly communicating and caring about each other.  

        I’m not saying the 2 of you don’t have what it takes or will never get to that point but if marriage is not an easily discussed topic then you’re just not there yet.   

  16. 36
    Marie

    Julia, I am genuinely ecstatic that you have found someone who makes you happy and am pulling for you.   As a sensible woman, I am sure you will probably be fine.   But for the less experienced women out there who are contemplating doing what you have done after reading  your post  (that is, living together with a man after 5 months of dating) I would have to agree with Karmic, Jenn, and Jen and sound a note of caution for the less experienced daters.   First, I don’t think it is a good idea to make this kind of decision in the throes of romantic love.   One is much more clear-headed after this has turned into companionate love and your love has withstood the test of time.   Why the rush to move in?   If he is truly the one, then he is not going anywhere and you have time to go slow.   Second, in a mature relationship such as Jen describes, having a clear  discussion about marriage is not pressuring the guy, because if he is as into you as you claim, then he should be just as eager to marry you as you think he should be.   Pressure only occurs when one is trying to convince the other party to do something that they don’t want, so if one feels like one is pressuring the guy only by talking about marriage, maybe this guy’s intentions aren’t as clear cut as he represents.
    One of the best pieces of advice Evan ever gave me when other women kept advising me to beat around the bush, read tea leaves, look for signs that he wanted to marry ME (not just the vague get married someday) was to just plain have a conversation.   A straightforward, logical, unemotional conversation.   Honey, if things continue to go well, I would like for us to get married in the next 2 years.   What do you think about that?   His response, “So that means we should be engaged in the next 1-1.5 years?”   Yes.   His response, “Okay, I can do that.”   Really, ,the most anti-climactic conversation I’ve ever had, after which we both knew where things stood exactly.   And given a concrete goal to work towards, he pretty much stuck to this timeline.   He told me later that  it was actually helpful I told him this  because  otherwise it wouldn’t  have occurred  to him that I wanted to get married that soon and it would have taken him another extra year or two to propose out of inertia.   But after giving it some thought he realized I was right and stepped it up.
    A trial living together arrangement is all well and good, as long as the parties are clear what that “trial” is.   If one person thinks it’s a trial towards something else, and the other party thinks it’s the default arrangement, that’s when trouble starts.

  17. 37
    lily

    Here is something that I would have missed had I not co-habitated, at least on a part-time basis, with my boyfriend.
    His elderly mother, who lives with him, would bully me at his house (mostly only when he was not in the room). I came out of an abusive marriage (I think I might have PTSD), and her abuse triggered all the memories of my bad marriage, and I was miserable. When I would get upset from her mistreatment of me, instead of hugging me and thanking me for putting up with her for his sake, he would yell at me.
    She is in excellent health, and I realized it was not ever going to get better, and I didn’t need all that negative energy in my life. Even though I loved him, and he had many great qualities, I still ended the relationship.
    And, yes, it was so much easier to end the relationship without having attorneys involved. Still very painful, but I was so happy that I kept my home that I own. I will ALWAYS keep my own home. Even though I am low income, I own my home outright. I remember too well selling the family home and worrying about where I would live. I don’t ever want that worry again. A home is very important to a woman.

    1. 37.1
      Jenn

      Lily, did this behavior start right after you moved in with him? I just wanted to ask because it seems to me that if she were truly that horrible to live with (and he as well), there would maybe have been some signs of that prior to your moving in. Were you ever alone with her before you lived with him? How did she treat you then? If you did get some sense of a disagreeable attitude from her before you shared the same address, and you brought it up to your boyfriend, what was his reaction?

  18. 38
    India

    I think it’s a good idea because then you know what he’s like. If he’s messy or clean, etc.

  19. 39
    Ursula

    I mostly agree with Evan regarding living together. However, as a divorced mother of 2 small children (7 and 5 years old) who spend nights with me it is not good for them to see some man moving in with mommy and then leaving after a few months shall things not work out. There has to be some skin in the game for me to live together with a man, an engagement will work. Only then both parties will work hard to make the relationship succeed. I lived together with my prior husband before getting married while being engaged. We were together for 10 years.

  20. 40
    Liz

    @ Fusee #16.   Thanks for such a clear, even-handed response.   It was a treat to read your opinion on this very fascinating topic.   By the end of the day, a couple has to find what works for them, and that requires communication, communication, communication.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *