One of the most common questions I receive from men and women who’ve been in a relationship for a while and are considering marriage is: Should we live together before we get married?
The idea of living together before getting married seems to be growing more and more in popularity. Proponents of the idea list the numerous benefits to cohabitating – most of the time revolving around the theory that by living together before you get married, you get the opportunity to get a 360 degree view of your mate, thereby giving you the means to make an accurate assessment of whether or not this is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.
While I agree that you do know a person better after you’ve lived with them, I don’t particularly agree with the notion that your new found knowledge of that person is going to be helpful in making a decision on whether or not to marry that person. I know that sounds illogical, but stay with me.
Living with someone gives you a full 360 degree picture of who they are as a person. You see them when they go to sleep and when they wake up. Having that sort of access is bound to give you more insight into the idiosyncrasies of their character that you might not otherwise know. Maybe the person presents their self as neat, orderly and organized, but once you’re there 24/7, you realize that the only time they probably ever cleaned their house was when you were coming over. Maybe the person likes to talk about all the different books they’ve read – but when you actually spend a couple months living with them, you realize they spend way more time playing video games than reading. Maybe the person snores, maybe they clip their nails on the bed, maybe they leave their shoes all over the house, and maybe they never, ever, clean their bathroom. All this stuff you’re able to find out when you live together. So you and your other decide to move in together and after a little while – you realize that they fit the description above. What’s your recourse – break up and thank God you didn’t choose to spend the rest of your life with this person right? Wrong.
I know, it seems like, with all of the above potentially hidden from your view, living together before getting married would be an obvious choice for a couple looking to go all the way. I happen to disagree. The thing about living together before you get married is, when you’re living together and you’re not married, the stakes don’t seem as high. Relative to if you were a married couple, you have way less to lose if the relationship fails. Because of this, these minor individual traits become huge issues. They cause little fights and disagreements – those disagreements grow into arguments. In those arguments, the fact that you guys haven’t yet made the decision to be committed to one another for the rest of your lives will make both of you less likely budge and compromise. You’re like… “No, there’s nothing wrong with leaving a huge wad of hair in the corner of the bath tub”, and he’s like “No, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the dishes till tomorrow morning”. Simple disagreements like this cause huge blow-ups because no one feels the need to back down or change – especially not for someone who they might spend forever with. Chances are, you’ll both think the other is crazy and unreasonable and you’ll part ways before you ever make it down the isle – and you’ll be relieved about it.
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