The Pros and Cons of Living Together Before Marriage

Authored by Jody Smith in Marriage 
Published on 07-30-2009

I had expected, as I researched this topic online, to find the pros and cons on this issue pretty evenly matched. I was surprised to find so many websites taking a stand against couples living together. I didn’t expect to find so few sources in favor of living together before marriage.

Here is the position of the faintly represented pros for couples to live together first.

If you want a better chance of having your relationship last, it’s a good idea to live with your partner before marriage. This way you will be able to tell whether you are compatible or not. It would be a shame to get married, and discover that in such close quarters, day in and day out, your partner doesn’t look so good anymore.

People are busy making a good impression while dating. It’s natural in this phase to downplay bad habits and less than stellar traits. It’s easier to look good. Once you share a home, and both let your hair down, that’s when you will find out if you are a good mix. And if you’re not, it’s less traumatic to part ways after living together than going through a divorce.

Sex can be a specter that overshadows everything during the dating phase. This can cloud a young person’s judgment (or an old person’s, for that matter) when they think of their beloved. Many marriages have taken place for the shaky reason that the two people really wanted to go to bed together. This can be a great state of mind to be in for its own sake but making life-long decisions under this intoxication can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Passion is great, as long as it’s not making major decisions for us.

Then there are the cons.

The religious community takes its stand on this side. No surprises there. What was surprising was to find so many other communities standing with them: counsellors, women’s groups, even men’s groups. Website after website decried that couples who live together first were more likely to divorce. I read that they did not value the relationship as highly as couples who married first. I was told that they had a more casual attitude about relationships, and were more likely to flit from one relationship to another.

I was informed that couples who live together to determine compatibility, and then go ahead and wed, are shocked to find that the relationship then changes. The unconscious assumptions each had about the roles of husbands and wives alter how they act with each other, and what they expect of each other change. And their experiment beforehand then has been largely wasted.

So there you have it. Two views mutually exclusive and directly opposed to each other. More people are in fact living together before they tie the knot, so somebody is obviously thinking this is a good idea. Is it? The pundits can’t agree. This is one of those issues a couple needs to decide for themselves.


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