You’re in love—isn’t it wonderful?
You still feel a little flip in your stomach when you see them or when their name pops up on your screen.
You’ve spent long days and nights together and have yet to get sick of them (quite the feat).
You know their coffee order, the random things they don’t like, and what gets them really excited.
You’ve had disagreements, gotten on each other’s nerves, and lived to tell the tale.
You’ve become an important part of each other’s lives, and you feel ready for something else, something more.
Marriage seems like a lot . . . too much.
But, maybe a trial run wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe you're considering the pros and cons of living together before marriage. Maybe it’s the logical next step.
Well, maybe you’re right.
But then again, you read the title of this article.
So, before you click away from this page and find someone who agrees with you, someone who merely lays out nicely the benefits of living together before marriage, hear me out. Not because it’ll make me feel better (I will never know if you read this or not), but because I know that if you’re looking into this topic, there’s probably someone out there you really care about. And if you do care about a certain someone, if you do want to keep them in your life, moving in together—as counterintuitive as it seems—may not be the best way to achieve that.
I’ll tell you why, using the common reasons people choose to move in together.
1. It’s convenient
If you spend the night at each other’s place already, it can be kind of a hassle to go from one place to another. You have some things here and some things there, and it’s a lot of planning, packing, unpacking—not to mention gas and Uber rides. It’s a pain, honestly. Moving in seems like the antidote to this logistical challenge.
Okay, so one or both of you will have to pack all your belongings, pay for a moving truck or van, move everything to another location, and then unpack. You will have to decide whose sofa you will keep, whose coffee table, whose dining room set—and there will be at least some back and forth about it. Then both of you will have to get rid of things, as you can’t have two vacuum cleaners, two coffee makers, two toaster ovens, two big and comfy armchairs . . . some of it will have to go.
Then, if things don’t work out (which hopefully they do, but at this point there are no guarantees), you will have to repack, purchase new items to replace what you got rid of, find a new place to live, pay for a moving truck or van, and then move everything to a new location . . . again.
None of this sounds particularly convenient, because it’s not. Yes, you save a little back and forth, but the reality is that moving is one of the top most stressful life events you can bring upon yourself, so it’s a high price to pay for something that may or may not work out.
What’s more, love is not convenient.
2. Financially it makes sense
Moving in with someone can mean a decrease in living expenses (although it’s not always the case—often couples decide to live in a nicer place than they could afford on their own), another attractive reason why couples decide to go for it.
Now your finances are tied up with this person, which is kind of a big deal. Why? It decreases your freedom. If you decide being with this person is no longer right or what you want, you not only have to move, but also untangle your money from theirs—which can be quite tricky. The longer you are together the more you will become aware of this complication, which may influence (and often does) your decision to stay together—when it most certainly shouldn’t. Financial independence is a real thing and should only be sacrificed when you and your significant other are committed to each other for life. Love is a choice made in freedom.
3. It’s a good test run for marriage
This is probably the biggest one. A lot of us have become gun-shy or even cynics when it comes to the “M” word. We’ve seen too many “I do’s” end in “I don’t anymore.” Instead, we say, “Okay, let’s try this whole marriage thing without actually doing it, and then we’ll know if it works (or at least have a more realistic idea of whether we could make it or not).”
Love is a choice. A choice made in freedom. And sometimes a long, hard choice.
Firstly, living together before marriage does not decrease your chance of getting a divorce later on. This kind of makes sense, because secondly, living together before marriage is not the same thing as marriage. Yes, you may get to know more quirks of your significant other, and you may have to figure out how to divide chores and share a space, but marriage is not just having a roommate you have sex with. Marriage is a commitment, a vow, a choice, a lifetime of joys and struggles, arguments and reconciliations, sharing each others’ burdens and achievements; it’s a lot of growth and pain and heartbreak and forgiveness.
Living together doesn’t hold a candle to the treacherous, beautiful adventure that is marriage.
4. You love them
I hope you believe this. I don’t imagine you would want to live with them if you didn’t. The challenge is that there is some confusion about what love is.
If I asked you, “Do you love your significant other?”, you would probably respond “Obviously.”
But do you?
Can you imagine yourself with them for the rest of your life? Even once their skin is wrinkly and saggy and their hair is gray? Even if they get a debilitating disease and you have to take care of them? Even if they say or do something that really hurts you?
Choose commitment over convenience, adventure over complacency, love over fear.
Love isn’t a long montage of people making out in various settings with indie music in the background—that’s infatuation. Love is a choice. And sometimes a long, hard choice.
Is that a choice you’re ready to make?
If it is, maybe moving in together before - or in place of marriage isn’t the answer. Maybe it’s spending the rest of your life with your beloved. I mean, if you love them, why wouldn’t you?
I know marriage today has a bad rap; I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the people that have failed us so gravely with their miscarriage of what should be an incredible thing. I’m sorry for all the people who walked out on their spouse, for the people who had “irreconcilable differences.” I’m sorry for all the people who treat it like a big, expensive party or a piece of paper. I’m sorry if you grew up watching your parents bicker and argue, if they were not able to stay true to their marriage vows, if they made it seem like marriage was more of a prison than a privilege.
I’m determined to undo this trend—but I’m not in a place that I can do it right now (takes two to tango and whatnot). If you truly love this person you’re thinking about moving in with, you could start changing this unhappy development by choosing commitment over convenience, adventure over complacency, love over fear.
You’re in love—isn’t it wonderful? This love is a gift. Whether or not you cherish it by making a vow or risk losing it for the sake of convenience or money or a test run . . . is something only you can decide.