About a year after my live-in relationship ended, I met the man who is now my husband. As our friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship we made the intentional decision not to live together.
Several months into our relationship, talk of marriage began. We imagined our life together, what our children would look like, where we would live, what kind of jobs we would have … all while living apart.
As I’ve written previously, I learned from a prior relationship that sharing an address makes it much harder to walk away—even if that’s what is best for both of you. I know a lot of people think living together before marriage is a way to “test the waters” before jumping in. But what feels like an opportunity to try things out is actually bondage to a lifestyle that is difficult to escape.
Choosing not to cohabit with my future husband before we married gave me the freedom to choose to him solely because I wanted to share life with him. There was no pressure to stick around because it was easier than leaving. I entered into marriage freely, not because the alternative was having to find a new place to live or untangling our finances.
I don’t think you can test the waters by living together before marriage because cohabitation and marriage are not the same thing. No matter how committed the relationship, it is not a legally binding promise to share your life with another person.
My husband and I started a new life together as one after we were married, in a house that was new to both of us. We learned each other’s quirks with an already materialized commitment to love and cherish one another for the rest of our lives. My husband and I were committed to each other—to the entirety of each other—before we moved in together.
Living together after you are married means choosing a person because you want to and embracing what comes with that person, quirks and all. I wouldn’t argue for diving into a lifelong commitment, but I do believe at some point we have to—and get to—make the leap and choose who we are going to love.
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