Is Living Together Before Marriage
a Good Idea?
By Frank Kermit
The question of living together before marriage comes up most often in my work, when helping couples through pre-marriage coaching, and helping singles figure out their boundaries and personal moral code on their path to finding a life partner.
The first place to start when answering this question is whether or not there are any cultural or religious reasons not to live together out of wedlock.
Advice needs to take into account the personal beliefs of the individuals and not force anyone to violate their own sense of right and wrong.
What may be appropriate for one group of people may not be acceptable for another group of people.
In cases where the couple may not have any such issues with living together prior to being married, but the family members close to the couple would not find it acceptable, the next question for that couple to explore is the importance of maintaining familial relations compared to following their own path.
Depending on how close people are to their extended families, and whether or not said families would cast out those who defy family social norms, may factor in greatly to the decision of living together.
With all that said, if there are no cultural or religious practices obstructing the couple from living together before marriage, I would generally counsel that it is a good experience to live together first.
To be clear, there are benefits of living together prior to being married (and if not to get married, then to test the waters for a life partnership and child rearing in the case of raising a family), which favor the couple that learns everything they can about each other.
There are things that you find out about your spouse-to-be only through living with them such as their grooming habits (or lack thereof), their ability to cope with being sick, and how they handle the stresses of everyday life.
Living together is one of the best ways to force an end to any remaining remnants of a honeymoon phase.
Best to know these things about your future spouse before becoming the spouse.
If there was one caveat that I would recommend, it is that living together must be a prelude to getting more serious.
If there is no interest in being serious long term, then do not move in together regardless of any convenience or incentives it may offer.
The best way to insure that neither member of the couple is wasting time with the wrong partner is to set a deadline to ensure that at some point, the couple that is just-living-together, will in time become the couple that is engaged.
If the deadline is reached after living together for a certain time period and the couple has not moved their relationship to the next level, take it as a red flag to end the relationship.