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Living with significant other before marriage...thoughts?

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Old 10-10-2012, 09:55 PM   #1
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Default Living with significant other before marriage...thoughts?

What are your thoughts on living with your significant other before getting married? Particularly signing a lease with them?

I grew up in a very conservative, Christian household and, needless to say, my parents are against it. However, my bf and I have been dating a year now and are talking about getting a place together next year when his lease is up. Obviously, I have hesitations about signing a lease with someone without that commitment of being engaged/married. But I don't have the moral/religious hesitations my parents do.

My mom is trying to convince me that there are studies that show that living together before marriage raises the odds for divorce. I'm a little skeptical of this. What is everyone's experience on this? Is it a good idea?
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:14 PM   #2
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I think it's a wonderful idea. I've been living with my boyfriend for a year and it has taught us a lot about each other and saved us both a lot of money. With school and work it's also now a necessity. We'd never see each other otherwise.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:32 PM   #3
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I like the idea of dating before marriage, you remember what a date is, you get dressed up and go out together. He comes to your house and picks you up. Even if you are going to the beach or out for pizza there is time spent considering what you will wear. Now, I understand living together you can still go out but there is the cooking to consider. the dirty laundry, taking out the garbage, vacuuming, cleaning house, etc. These can all wait until marriage, enjoy being young and single and looking forward to doing something special with your BF, you will have plenty of time to do dishes and dirty laundry after you are married.
I also don't think living together before marriage improves your chance of having a good marriage.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:39 PM   #4
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Are you engaged? Or are you just in a relationship that you hope leads to marriage? I think there is a big difference. When I was dating my wife, we did not live together until we got engaged. We then lived together for the year before our wedding.

My sister had some bad experiences moving in with boyfriends without being engaged. Long story short, she wasted years of her life with each one of them, hoping for a marriage proposal that never came. There's something to that old saying "Why buy the milk..." Her boyfriends had no incentive to marry her because they were quite happy and comfortable with the way things were -- without any long term commitment. She made the mistake of not giving them them the boot when a long time passed and there was no proposal.

In short, my response would be "it depends" on what you have already discussed with your bf about marriage.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:47 PM   #5
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me too.
we got engaged and decided to live together for a while.
I think it is important to live together before marriage to prevent one from having a fantasy about marriage.
we lived together a little over a year and then we got married.
that was 10 years ago...
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:51 PM   #6
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I can see both sides of the coin, which are perfectly displayed in your first two replies, lol.

One side is that a couple living together, while not necessarily married, allows them to see each other all the time which then allows them to learn each others' "true colors" and whether or not they can/want to put up with said "true colors" before they make that big forever commitment, while also saving the couple money and the hassle of trying to find a roommate and all that technical stuff when you're trying to choose a person to live with. You already know and love this person, so yeah, why not live with them?

But then there's bargoo's side: why play marriage before you have to? People do tend to forget that a couple living together isn't just fun and lovey dovey stuff and causes things to get very real very fast because you start throwing in things like sharing or being involved in each others' finances and being able to have sex however often you like, which (unless one or both of you is sterile or are extremely diligent with birth control) could lead to a higher risk of pregnancy, which are things you might not be ready to deal with and could lead to complications in your relationship that weren't there before.

Me personally? I feel like living with a significant other prior to marriage, while it may not increase the chance of having a good marriage, gives the couple (if they've never been married) an idea of what being married is like and allows them to decide if they're actually ready for something like that or not. It's a good life experience, and if things don't work out, you won't have to fork out thousands of dollars worth of lawyer fees for a divorce.

I'd say I wouldn't do it unless I knew my relationship was headed down the marriage path. Otherwise, it's just not necessary.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:12 PM   #7
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I definitely see both sides as well. It's definitely interesting to see everyone's different opinions. I can understand the idea of why play marriage before you have to, in terms of the lack of romance and all that. Although, I tend to think that "playing marriage" might make it an easier transition into actual marriage. My bf and I definitely agree that marriage will be in our future in the next couple of years. I definitely wouldn't move in not knowing where he stood on the issue. I also wouldn't tolerate an indefinite situation of living together without it progressing anywhere.

One of my main concerns about this is signing a lease. I mean, I know stuff can still happen after getting engaged, but it seems a little risky to sign a joint lease not knowing 100% if we'll be together.

Great thoughts everyone!
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:30 PM   #8
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For me, it has a lot to do with your ages and past life experiences/dating history. If you are 18 and this is your first boyfriend then, personally, I would say wait it out and get to know yourself and him better. If you are 30 and you've done some living then I would be more inclined to say "go for it".

My partner and I moved in together when I was 28 (and had a 1.5 year old daughter) and he was 37. We both had stable careers, had dated several people and knew that we were in this for the long haul. I couldn't be happier with this situation and (4 years later) we are getting married.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:34 PM   #9
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Yes I agree
when I started living with my fiance, I was 37 and he was 44
after a little over a year, we got married and looking forward to our 10th anniversary in March.
Good Luck!!!!
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:09 AM   #10
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I know my mom wishes she had lived with my dad a bit before tying the knot. He's so sloppy and doesn't care if things are neat, but my mom does, and it bugs the crap out of her everyday. It doesn't help that me and my brother have inherited this trait. Anyway, I'm just saying that it's good to get used to how you two will live together before it's too late. Of course, it might change after you two are actually married, but still, just a basic idea.
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:41 AM   #11
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Since you asked about the research, I'll answer that part first.

For decades, it was observed and written about in the social scientific literature that premarital cohabitation was correlated with increased rates of divorce, decreased marital satisfaction, and increased domestic violence, even after controlling for demographic factors. It was not clear whether premarital cohabitation itself was detrimental to the relationship or people who self-selected into living together (again, controlled demographics) were just not well-suited or as good partners. The favored hypothesis is that cohabitors "slide" into marriage - for instance, that a relationship that is "good enough" for cohabitation but not good enough for marriage never becomes good enough for marriage but the people get married anyway as a natural next step.

However, the very most recent studies show a shift because about 60% of marriages are preceded by premarital cohabitation. There is now no statistically significant difference in marital satisfaction between couples who did no cohabit and those that moved in together post-engagement i.e. after the decision to marry had been made. People who cohabit without a formal commitment like an engagement still have higher divorce rates, etc.

So your parents were right about 10 years ago but a little less right now. I found these studies quite compelling when I first read them and decided never to live with a partner before marriage. So the take-home from the most recent studies would be to not cohabit until you are at least engaged if you think looking at research is a reasonable piece of evidence to help you make a decision (which I do).

My personal take, though, is that it is foolish to live with a boyfriend or fiance because the barriers to breaking up are very high, yet many relationship should end in those stages, and so those barriers may keep people together after they would have broken up if they weren't living together. Sharing a residence and even more so sharing finances to some degree compounds the pain of a breakup, should it come. I think you are being unusually forward-looking to be concerned about being stuck in a lease with someone you may not want to live with after some time. If you do decide to move in, I think you should have an exit strategy in place for the possibility of a breakup, such as who you will stay with and what things belong to whom. And both of you should for sure be on a lease if you cohabit for legal protection. An acquaintance of mine essentially threw his girlfriend out of their shared apartment after their breakup (as in, the same night) and since she wasn't on the lease she (perceived that she) had no recourse.

My husband and I did not live together before we were married but spent a lot of time together and I can assure you that we were able to observe one another's lives sufficiently to help make the decision to marry. I can honestly say there have been zero domestic or personality surprises revealed since our marriage 2.5 years ago. So I can personally attest that it is possible to get to know someone very, very well without living together, if that is at all a concern for you. I basically see all downside to premarital cohabitation and zero upside.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:14 AM   #12
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I don't think there's any correlation between living together and higher divorce rate...more people probably live together before marriage so the numbers get skewed. It's kind of like studies saying most people that got lung cancer smoked Marlboros, well Marlboro is the most popular cigarette but a smokers odds of getting sick are about the same regardless of what brand they smoke. Strange example I know but you get my point. Divorce rate is 50% period and marriage is just a legal contract. As long as you have a healthy/happy relationship there is no right or wrong. If you want to live together first then do so. It's your life, not your parents. I also don't let religion scare me. Personally, I will always test drive a car before buying it.

Good luck.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:21 AM   #13
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As others have stated, it really depends on the dynamic of your relationship.

The first guy I dated was a 4 1/2 year relationship. I never moved in with him and always maintained my own place because I just knew it wasn't right I was just too insecure after such a long relationship (first boyfriend) to end it. Despite that immaturity, I just had a gut feeling I wasn't paying enough attention to.

I moved in with my husband after we'd only dated for 6 months. He was completely self sufficient in the Navy and I just moved into his 2 bedroom apartment as I was in between leases. It was meant to only be a month or two while I waited for a new place but after each one fell through, we just kept it as is.

I also felt comfortable with the situation. He was mature, appreciated me after a very crappy ex wife. He'd been hurt and I knew he wouldn't hurt me. If things ended, I felt confident it would be amicable.

Before you make a final decision, you need to discuss the boring, nitty gritty of the situation. How are bills going to be paid and split, groceries, chores, cooking, etc. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't take the time to clarify these issues first. You don't want surprises when you're talking about a long lease.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:11 AM   #14
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I lived with my first husband for three years before we married and we were very happy. We only really got married because of pressure from his parents or I suspect we would simply have not bothered. Strangely, my parents, who I would have thought would be dead against it, were supportive and happy for us. Of course, I was really young and did not have a care. We did divorce after several years of marriage but that had nothing to do with cohabiting out of wedlock..

If it feels right to be together then be together. Family pressure, however, can really wear one down and makes things unhappy and awkward. If you are truly committed then there cannot be any problem with signing a lease together but be aware that if your relationship fails you have complications because of it.

I know it is not perhaps that comfortable to consider the negatives in a lovely relationship but it would be good to sit down with your partner and discuss any concerns openly and honestly. Perhaps, when it comes down to it, premarital cohabitation is just a cautious way of saying ..... "hmmm, not sure I really want to fully commit. Let's have a trail run?" In that case stay apart until the big day?
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:30 AM   #15
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I strongly believe in living together before marriage. Living together and dating are completely different in my mind and it shows you if you are truly compatible enough before taking it to something as serious as marriage. It's alot easier to move out because you break up then to have to move out and get a divorce.

However, with that said, I don't believe in moving in with a boyfriend just because hes your boyfriend. If you can truly see a future with this person, then I think living together before marriage isn't a bad idea.
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