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The Pros and Cons of Living Together Before Marriage

Since completing university in England, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian and freelance writer. He currently lives in Florida.

Making the decision whether to cohabit before marriage is an important decision.  Getting it right can make the difference between the survival or failure of the relationship.  There are advantages and disadvantages to living together before wedlock.

Making the decision whether to cohabit before marriage is an important decision. Getting it right can make the difference between the survival or failure of the relationship. There are advantages and disadvantages to living together before wedlock.

Making the decision whether to cohabit before marriage requires careful consideration for all couples. The right decision will increase the chance of a achieving a successful long-term relationship, while getting it wrong could spell disaster.

Research shows that nearly half of all couples decide to cohabit before they enter wedlock. Of those living together, 40 percent will go on to marry within three years. Out of those who do marry, 27 percent will have divorced within five years of tying the knot.

There are certainly pros and cons when it comes to living together before marriage. I have listed the main ones below.

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

— Franz Schubert

Living together can serve as a trial run for marriage.  You can learn about your partner's habits, expectations, and quirks, as well as seeing how well you both cope with sharing responsibilities.  Financial issues may also surface and provide a test

Living together can serve as a trial run for marriage. You can learn about your partner's habits, expectations, and quirks, as well as seeing how well you both cope with sharing responsibilities. Financial issues may also surface and provide a test

Pros of Living Together Before Marriage

  • Sharing the financial burdens is much easier with two of you in a household. Splitting the rent and living costs like energy bills makes life more affordable. Plus saving for that down payment on a house or car suddenly seems much more attainable.
  • Living together can provide a trial run for marriage. You can discover how your other half lives, their habits, expectations, and quirks. You can also gauge how well you both cope together with the practicalities of things like cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, and sharing responsibilities. At the end of the day, it is easier to walk away from a failed relationship, than a failed marriage.
  • Your sex life and romantic patterns will be more like marriage when you are living together. You may have more fun together when you are under the same roof.
  • Sharing everything can be fun. If you don't enjoy it when you are living together, you won't enjoy it when you're married.

When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Marriage ceremonies generally involve the couple swearing vows of loyalty and personal sacrifice.  These vows are absent when people live together, which can mean that things like commitment and loyalty are taken less seriously by both parties.

Marriage ceremonies generally involve the couple swearing vows of loyalty and personal sacrifice. These vows are absent when people live together, which can mean that things like commitment and loyalty are taken less seriously by both parties.

Cons of Living Together Before Marriage

  • Living together might dull the excitement regarding marriage.
  • It may cause tensions if one or both partners are from religious backgrounds which frown upon cohabitation and/or sex before marriage.
  • Cosigning a lease is a major step to take. It throws you into joint financial responsibility for something, introducing issues such as how money is shared and spent. What if one of you earns far more than the other? What happens if you split up, who gets to stay in the property?
  • Financial issues can destroy a relationship if not discussed and worked out in advance. Once you live together, your financial responsibilities quickly become intertwined. Talking about money money can be difficult, but it is essential in this situation. People's expectations about lifestyle, budgets, financial ethics, can all cause tensions, and it is generally unrealistic to think that you can work it out as you go along.
  • Domestic issues, such as the sharing out of chores, meal preparation and standards of cleanliness etc. also need to be discussed and worked out in advance.
  • Giving up the single life can be difficult for some people. The difference between living for oneself and being part of a partnership are considerable.
  • Achieving a good balance between seeing each other too much or too little is also a good thing to strive for. When you are dating, you can choose to spend quality time together, but when you live together, it is easy to either neglect to allot times when you just hang out and enjoy each other's company. Likewise, you can also spend too much time with each other and get on each other's nerves. A balance needs to be struck.
  • Cohabitation can become the norm. Statistics appear to show that the longer a couple live together, the less likely they are to marry.
  • Getting used to a romantic partner can smother the fires of passion. You can become bored with each other easily, and it takes a deliberate effort to keep the relationship interesting and varied.
  • The other extreme is that tensions develop and heated arguments are the result. There is nowhere to escape to when you live together, you can't just go home to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
  • Marriage begins with each member of the couple swearing vows to each other regarding sacrifice and loyalty. These vows are meant to create a particular mindset and culture. Those vows are absent when couples just move in together.

Some US Marriage Statistics

Over 2 million marriages take place in the USA each year.

The probability that men will marry by age 40 is 81%; for women, it is 86%.

According to the 2010 Pew Research survey: about six-in-ten (61%) men and women who have never married say they desire to get married, . Only 12% say they do not wish to marry and 27% are not sure.

Among divorced adults, only 29% say they would like to marry again.

Your Opinion

Questions & Answers

Question: My 70 year old girl friend moved in a year and a half ago and i want her to leave, so what are my rights?

Answer: I would recommend seeking legal advice in regard to this matter.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

Comments

Julie Bastien on April 01, 2019:

After 24years do I consider my self married or not

dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 19, 2019:

"Research shows that nearly half of all couples decide to cohabit before they enter wedlock. Of those living together, 40 percent will go on to marry within three years. Out of those who do marry, 27 percent will have divorced within five years of tying the knot."

There are three basic reasons why couples divorce

1. They chose the wrong mate. (They're too incompatible.)

2. A "deal breaker" was committed in one of their eyes.

3. They fell out of love/stopped wanting the same things.

None of these three have anything to do with living together or even having had premarital sex. If your spouse cheats on you or is abusive odds are you're NOT going to say:

"Had we not lived together we'd still be together."

Several years ago AARP conducted a survey which revealed (women) initiate 66% or 2/3rds of all divorce filings in the U.S.

Another survey revealed divorced men remarry sooner than divorced women. This would seem to indicate as women got better jobs and higher income they were less likely to put up with much crap! :)

It also might mean having chased after the "fairytale" they came to realize marriage was nothing like it was advertised.

Anyone contemplating marriage probably should live together because living together is exactly what marriage (feels like) after the wedding day and honeymoon are long over.

Truth be told the only (real upside) to marriage is in the event it ends in divorce or with the death of a spouse you may be "entitled" to financial benefits and assets. It's all based upon a negative result.

The number one complaint (women) have about the end of a long-term relationship whether living together or not is: "Not having anything to {show} for it." Marriage potentially offers them benefits.

tomelta sombai on June 01, 2018:

marriage is an institution of God. this institution has more social benefits than spiritual one. when you move in with a guy that suppose to marry you soon, you delay the marriage because you will end up giving him the services of a wife while he will take decade to plan a wedding. some says "WHY BUY THE COW WHEN YOU CAN GET THE MILK FREE"

Jane on December 10, 2017:

I️ recommend not “tying the knot” divorce is brutal ; expensive and to “un-tie the knot” is exhausting; it’s a different world now. With social media; just too many secrets and smoking mirrors

kasie on November 28, 2017:

I've been living with my fiancee for 6 year and it has definitely made a good impact on our relationship

dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 05, 2015:

All of the so called "cons" are the same obstacles a couple will have to deal with after they marry whether they lived together or not!

Essentially not cohabitating is only "postponing" dealing with these issues.

There's this "myth" out there that the majority couples decided to cohabitate for the purposes of doing a "test run" for marriage. Not true!

However the reality is the vast majority of couples that cohabitate never moved in together because they had plans to marry in the first place!

Fundamentally it's usually a (practical) decision. After giving them a key.

One person spends the bulk of their time at the other's place. One day one of them says; "This is crazy! Why are we paying for two rents and double the utilities? Do you want to go ahead and get a place together?"

I bet if you surveyed the couples by asking them; "Did you and your mate seriously discuss getting married before moving in together?" You'll find the majority did not. It was a matter of convenience and finance. Someone got tired of packing an overnight bag after 6 months to a year.

Two people who (want) to get married (will) get married whether they live together or not. It's not unusual however for couples to "grow apart" whether they live together or got married.

The vast majority of couples that get married today have had pre-marital sex and have cohabitated. Therefore it should not be a shock to hear that the majority of divorces occur between couples who had premarital sex and cohabitated. One could just as easily say couples where both have two legs get divorced at a higher frequency than those where one of them has one leg.

It makes little sense to try peg the odds of a successful marriage as though there is a mathematical equation or scientific theory.

The reality is most divorces occur because someone committed a "deal breaker" in the eyes of the other. In fact the #1 cause for divorce in my opinion is (choosing the wrong mate) for oneself. The #2 cause is getting married for the (wrong reasons) such as had an age goal, all of their friends were married, an ultimatum was given, an unplanned pregnancy, was about to be deployed for military duty, or financial gains. The #3 cause would be the couple simply grew apart over time.

No person going through a divorce says to them self; "If only we had never lived together we would have lasted forever."

It's more like: "If only you hadn't (cheated) me, beat me, spent our money recklessly, became an alcoholic/drug addict, stopped having sex, being supportive, communicating, being romantic...etc"

What we do prior to marriage leads us to marriage. What we do in our marriage will determine is what will determine if it lasts.

One man's opinion!:)

Laura Izett-Irwin from The Great Northwest on March 04, 2015:

Good topic. Far more cons which I agree with. I lived with my husband 3 months prior to getting married and honestly that was far better than two other boyfriends I had- one I lived with for 5 years (never married) and the other one year. My husband and I only lived together that few months because my roommate at the time was getting married and it made no sense for me to find a place for 3 months until I was married. Otherwise I think the lesson for me was not living together before hand is the way to go.

Living together makes it too easy to walk away and the affordability makes it too hard to walk away so you end up staying for the cost savings.