new houseI hate to say it, but there may be some truth to your mother's warning about him not wanting to buy the cow when he already has the milk. It's a crude saying of course, but a new study done by the Australian Family Institute has found that cohabitating couples are three to five times more likely to split up than married couples living together. While it might not be surprising -- couples dating but living together have less commitment, therefore making it easier to leave -- I think there's something to it. If 25 to 38 percent of cohabitating couples split while only 7 to 9 percent of married couples cut it off, maybe Mom was right. Maybe we shouldn't rush into playing house without a ring.

Not that marriage is the end all be all -- the research also showed that the average length of a marriage is now 8.7 years, which, believe it or not, is actually up from 1980, when it was 7.5 years. So either way, the outlook is not a guaranteed happily ever after.

I think many of us, especially us young ones in large cities, take moving in together with a boyfriend a little more casually than maybe we should. I know I did. I moved in with a boyfriend after one blissful year of dating. I remember thinking how perfect it would be. Better place, better appliances, cheaper rent, live-in playmate ... yeah all that quickly pales when you're faced with the reality that playing house isn't as fun as it seems. There's no escape. Yeah, you may have spent every night with your boyfriend at his place before deciding to get an apartment together, but there was a choice involved. You could've gone home, he knew that, you were choosing each other, it was all so romantic.

Then when you move in, the choice is gone, you have to be there every night, and the permanency can be overwhelming. It was for me at least. The live-in learning curve is steep, so you might start asking what you're doing -- putting up with all this stress -- and you might bolt. It's what I did.

I think the study puts some factual numbers on an emotional circumstance, but they have a point. If you wait to move in, if you wait until you really know someone, if you're at a point where you're ready to spend your lives with one another, then living together will be more rewarding, and I would argue easier, since the commitment is there from both sides. Running becomes harder; there's more to work for to save if things go sour. But, really, what do I know, I'm a bolter. 

What do you think about living together before marriage?


Photo via timparkinson/Flickr