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When two people fall in love and are in a committed relationship, the topic of marriage may very well come up.
After all, what better way to prove your mutual adoration and devotion than to exchange vows promising to love, honor, and cherish each other forever?
Well, those vows are a lot easier to keep if you’ve sorted out beforehand whether you can cohabitate harmoniously.
I mean, what could be worse than marrying someone, moving in together, and then discovering that they get drunk and abusive when stressed out?
Or that they’re reckless with money, leaving mutual bills unpaid, and leaving the financial burden on your shoulders?
There are many benefits of living together before marriage – even if just for a little while. Below are the top nine reasons to consider doing so.
1. You get to determine whether you’re actually compatible.
It’s one thing to spend Friday nights together and attend events as a couple.
It’s another thing entirely to share a living space.
People tend to be on their best behavior when they’re dating, as they’re trying to make the best impression possible.
It’s easy to smile, and be charming, and wear certain personality masks for a few hours a week.
A person’s true colors, however, come out over time. This is especially true if there are stressful situations to contend with.
If you live with someone before making the commitment to marry them, you may discover some really unpalatable truths about their character, or their lifestyle choices.
Are they content to live off you without contributing financially? Are they unhygienic?
You may find out that they snore too loudly for you to be able to handle. Or your morning rituals may be too perky and annoying for them to deal with.
We all have habits that we’ve cultivated over the years; rituals that soothe and comfort us. But that doesn’t mean that two people’s habits are compatible.
If your Saturday morning habit is to leap out of bed to go out for a run, and your partner likes to rest in a pillow pile until noon, that can be negotiated so you’re both fulfilled.
In contrast, if your morning ritual involves blasting rap at 6am so you can do your crossfit routines, and all they want to do is rest, that’s going to cause a whole lot of conflict.
2. It may uncover potential deal breakers.
As mentioned above, people are on their best behavior when getting to know new people.
And even if you date for years, you may not fully know someone if you only ever see them a few times a week.
So, another advantage of living together before marriage even crosses your minds is that you may discover aspects of how they live that are just too awful to handle.
Let’s say your partner claims to like animals, but once you live together, you discover that they’re cruel to your pet.
Or you find out that their tendency to get inebriated at parties also manifests as drinking themselves to sleep night after night.
You may even find that they have anger issues that manifest as explosive, abusive rants or – heavens forbid it – physical violence.
There are countless different deal breakers that may only reveal themselves once you’ve been living together for a while.
It’s better to learn about these as early on as possible, so you don’t find yourself in an excruciating situation (such as dependent, with children) that will be far more difficult to leave.
3. You’ll discover whether your intimacy is a hearth fire or wildfire.
One of the most amazing things about a new relationship is the fire of intimacy that burns between two people.
Once you’re comfortable enough with one another that you can have real sexual openness, you’ll likely revel in each other’s bodies for hours at a time. Days even.
But is this passion sustainable?
An intimate connection can be as incendiary as a wildfire, consuming everything around it… but then fizzles out quickly.
In contrast, another flame may be slow, steady, and sustained. Basically, an ember that can glow in a hearth pretty much forever.
Yes, intimacy inevitably ebbs and flows over the course of a relationship. There will undoubtedly be times when you’re more platonic, and other times when you’re devouring one another.
But if you lose sexual interest in each other within a couple of months of cohabitation, you’ll need to ask yourselves whether you really want to stay in self-soothing platonic land for the next 50 years.
4. It will show naysayers that you are a united couple.
Not all relationships are supported by family and friends. In fact, you may have come across powerful resistance from your loved ones if you’re dating someone who is another race, religion, or gender than they approve of.
They may have even gone so far as to try to break you up so you could be with someone they would prefer.
Moving in together shows them that you have each other’s backs, and are a united front against whatever they’re slinging.
To say that you’re in a relationship is one thing: people can remain in denial about it all they want. But once you’re sharing a living space, that’s a big wake-up call for them about how serious you are.
5. Cohabitation allows positive and negative personality traits to shine forth.
Living together might make you fall in love with your partner even more, as you discover that they’re even more awesome than you first realized.
You may find that they do really sweet, thoughtful things at home, or their actions really bring out the best in you, in turn.
In contrast, many people who have to extricate themselves from marriages to narcissists kick themselves for not having seen their spouse’s horrible personality traits before they exchanged vows.
The truth is that it can take a year or more for a narcissist to show the darker aspects of their personality. They only allow their charming facade to slip under pressure, or if someone else comes along who captures their interest.
If you rush into marriage with a person who seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance they actually are.
So, another reason to give yourselves a good year or two of solid cohabitation is to determine how authentic the other person is being.
Only once the honeymoon period has passed will you really understand whether you’ll be able to have a happy life together.
6. You’ll be able to establish good shared habits.
It can take a long time for a couple to get into a good working groove together, and it’s better to get that sorted well before you heave each other over the nuptial threshold.
Living together before marriage allows you to encourage one another’s best traits, and work together to create routines and habits that benefit you both.
People who live alone often get lazy about the foods they eat, opting for quick convenience rather than health. When you live together, you’ll be able to pool finances for higher-quality groceries, and explore different recipes together.
You’ll likely also encourage one another to get into healthier exercise and sleep routines, and also coordinate time with other friends, hobbies, etc.
That way, once you’re married, you’ve already gotten the bumps smoothed and have paved the way for a far more comfortable partnership.
7. It’s a trial run for long-term life together.
Actions speak a lot louder than words ever do, and the way a person behaves after you’ve been living together for about six months will give you a solid idea of what they’ll be like in several years.
You might have spent weekends together, or gone camping for a week, but that’s very different from regular, day-to-day life.
Living together allows you to see what this person is like long-term.
Do they step up and do their share of the cooking and cleaning, or do they abdicate those responsibilities and let you take care of it?
Are they diligent about picking up after themselves? What about paying bills on time?
When you live together before making a lifetime commitment to do so, you have an idea of whether you can, in fact, cohabitate harmoniously.
If you can negotiate problems early on and find solutions together, great!
In contrast, if every issue is met with hostility, then that’s a big red flag to consider.
8. Moving out is cheaper and easier than divorce.
Sure, everyone loves the energy and delight that bubbles up at a wedding. Of all the celebrations we can take part in over the course of our lives, weddings hold the most joy. After all, they’re celebrations of love, devotion, and potential.
They’re also usually quite expensive. And if you think marriage is costly, divorce can be even worse.
Depending on how long you’ve been married, you won’t only have to deal with legal fees to process your divorce: you may also contend with property division, shared childcare costs, spousal support, and a myriad other expenses.
If you cohabitate with your partner before getting tied up with all the legalities associated with marriage, and you two determine that you’re just incompatible long term, one of you can just move out.
9. You may decide that you prefer to live alone.
If you’ve never lived with a partner before, cohabitation before marriage may show you that you know what…? You really prefer to live by yourself!
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship has to end. There are many different ways to negotiate different living situations that can keep everyone happy.
I knew one couple who bought adjacent townhouses and lived next door to one another, very happily, for decades. Last I heard, they were still together, content with their own spaces, and completely committed to one another.
And hey, if you’re happier living alone, that’s absolutely okay. It’s better to be honest about it early on than break up a family dynamic several years down the road.
There are undoubtedly some people who will have a list of cons about living together before marriage. They would even say that some of the benefits listed above are actually cons because they might lead to the breakup of the relationship.
But if a relationship is going to fail upon cohabitation, it would end after marriage and the subsequent shared living arrangements anyway. Or worse, one or both partners might feel trapped in an unhappy marriage, unable to leave for a variety of reasons.
It seems naive and irresponsible for couples to expect that marriage will make cohabitation a stress-free, magical experience. It really won’t.
It takes time for all the facets of people’s personalities to reveal themselves, and only by living together for a solid period of time before exchanging vows will you be able to determine whether you can handle living together forever.
Still not sure whether it’s a good idea to live together before marriage? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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