With Valentine’s Day just passed and National Weddings Month still in full effect, I’m obsessing about something debatable: living together before marriage. The practical part of me thinks this is a necessity, but the statistics scare me—studies show that up to 50% of people who live together before marriage end up divorced or apart…and those who live together while they’re not married are “more accepting of divorce.”
I’m a supporter of cohabitation, but here’s my caveat—I say that both of you should be pretty sure you’re getting married before you make the moving move. Why? I like to know 100% what I can expect in a situation. Living together before he even pops the question would be the perfect trial run. Is someone leaving a dirty towel around the house every once in a while (emphasis on once in a while) a good way to crack my neurotically neat shell…or will I freak? Remember how couples fight over money? Living together is a surefire way to make sure he’s not up all night playing (and losing at) online poker, or to ensure that he’s not the type who’s too stingy to contribute to toilet paper ‘cause you “use it more.”
That said, I’m willing to consider some of the negatives. Feeling like marriage is the next step after moving in together causes people to divorce? Not if the two of you are completely committed to each other in the first place. Another frightening stat: Couples who live together often have poor conflict resolution skills. Wait, what? I don’t care if my significant other and I are sharing a living space, I will still let my feelings be known, even if it starts an argument. Scared about having nowhere to go when you have a fight? Don’t live in a studio apartment so you have another room to go to if you’re heated. Head to the gym if you’re both yelling. Go for a walk. Come back calm and talk. Communication is key, and I think honesty is the best policy—even if you have to share a remote with someone you just pissed off, let it out!
I therefore think the real problems lie in the reasons why people are moving in together. Each situation is different, but here are some of the half-baked things I’ve heard: “It’s convenient.” “The rent would be so much cheaper!” “All of our friends are doing it.” “We need to get out of our parents’ houses.” I’ve seen some of my friends live with their s.o.’s and go through the aftermath of a live-in split: breaking leases, dividing furniture…the emotional fallout of sharing a space with someone you despise while one party moves out—not pretty.
So, although I can’t speak from experience yet, I believe that if you’re fairly certain your other half is the one you want to marry, and so long as you’ve both discussed marriage seriously (and by seriously I don’t mean you tell him about your dream wedding and he says “okay”), it’s a great idea. For me, if I’m willing to share custody of my futon, I’m willing to be with you forever. And, hey, if we’re completely wrong about this whole “us” thing? At least we didn’t waste money on the engagement, the marriage, the monogrammed towels, the divorce…. Lucky for us, we figured it out early (and saved on rent while we did it!).
GIRL TALK TIME: What’s your take on this issue? Are you all for living with someone before you get married? Do you think it’s okay to casually live together as a couple? Have you ever lived with a significant other and then broken up? What happened? Let us know, ladies!