Shortly after meeting the man who became my husband, the Army sent both of us to the very same duty station where we would live for the next year and a half. We were pretty crazy about each other, and moving in together is what everybody does now-a-days, right? Not only would it have made financial sense to move in together, but his house was closer to our work, and we could have easily carpooled almost every day.
But when I stumbled upon the research, I was surprised by some of what I found, and particularly how much evidence there was against living together. While cohabitating couples have the benefits of sharing bills and saving money, dividing up housework and spending more time together, they also run the risks of a 46% higher divorce rate, depression rate that is 3 times that of the married couple, higher rates of domestic violence and lower rates of exclusivity (monogamy) in their sexual relationships than that of married couples.
These are some pretty grim statistics. But they weren’t the only deciding factor for Eric and me.
We already had a strong and growing relationship, and we wanted that to continue. Rejecting the “trial marriage,” as some like to refer to cohabitation, forced us to really talk to one another and discuss our expectations, worries, hopes, and plans for the future. It’s easy to just “move in” and see what happens, but it’s harder to intentionally sit down day after day and tackle the difficult questions. We spent a year and a half working through our beliefs and expectations and forming a confident picture of our future together.
I didn’t need to live with Eric to know how he would treat me once married or how we would get along in the same house. Every man leaves the toilet seat up and you don’t need to live with one to see if he does it or not! While NOT living together was a harder choice, it came with a much lower level of risk. We are living proof that it is possible to create a strong, lasting commitment BEFORE sharing a bed, blender, or toilet seat
When we finally did get married, the happiness of moving into our first home together couldn’t be tainted by the underlying fact that a legitimate commitment was lacking. Six years later, our marriage commitment is strong, and we’ve never regretted for even a second our decision to live separately while we were dating.
Maybe someone who is reading this is in a cohabiting relationship or considering one right now. I hope my story gives you courage to not waste critical time.
If you know you’re with “the one”, get married! What are you waiting for? If you’re not sure, take a step back and start asking the difficult questions about your relationship and its future. It helps to move out at this stage, because the longer you live together, the more painful a breakup might be.
We all deserve the happiness that comes with knowing you made the hard choices and asked the hard questions, to establish a strong marriage commitment.