Cohabitating Is Pretty Much a Relationship Death Wish


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



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Kelli... KelliansMom

i can see this ..but my relationship broke all the rules ...we were roommates from the start and then things went on way and soon our seprate bedrooms became one years later we are still going stronge and married for two 

xavie... xavierlogan09

my fiance and i have lived together for most of our relationship. We have a son together and we live happily. I am surprised the average marriage lasts 8 years. That is short.

Payton Irwin

You said it yourself, moving in is overwhelming. I can't imagine having my wedding day, then one of the largest vacations of my life so far, then moving in with someone I've never lived with before all happen in the same week. It would be so incredibly stressful (add onto that if I had been a virgin before the wedding!). No, I'm so grateful that my husband and I lived together for two years before we got married. We're both only children, so I think it was important for us to experience living with someone else before we tied the knot.



nonmember avatar Sally

In most cases, I don't really think you can compare living together and getting married. I moved in my husband 2 years before we got married. I was 90% sure about the relationship when we moved in and 100% sure when we got married 2 years later. That was the point. No regrets at all. In fact, I am glad I knew what I was getting myself into (great guy, loving, caring, fun, messy, likes video games, stays up really late, likes to sleep in).

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I think it's better to live together and see that you CAN live together than get married and discover that you simply can't stand to live with them. Plus, I see it as a good trial run for compromise in a marriage that you wouldn't generally find in a relationship that doesn't cohabitate: how are chores split? Bills? If you have different schedules, how do you accomdate for that in the home and still find time to be together as a couple? If you discover that you can't compromise on these and other issues, it's a lot easier to get out of a casual relationship than a marriage.

Ashleigh Munson

If you're going to split up, it may as well be BEFORE the wedding. Not after. And there's no beter way to gauge how you'll both handle that type of always-there permanence until you live together. If it doesn't work out, ok. You go  your separate ways. Compared to demanding the ring first, getting married, moving in together, and THEN finding out that you just can't stand that other person to that degree. Now you have to get a divorce. Woops.

I lived with my husband for 3 years before we got married. We're about to have our 3 year anniversary.

nonmember avatar Kimmy

Most of these comments are completely missing the point. There should be no trial to "be sure you can actually live with someone". That is why cohabitating is not good for relationships, because that kind of mentality makes it easier to just pack up and leave when things are not perfect. Part of marriage is learning to compromise. I feel like if you need a test run, you are not truly commited. Also, i dont understand why women wonder he hasnt proposed...why should he? They get all the benefits and no legal obligation. Women, respect yourself enough to not play house until you are atleast engaged.

nonmember avatar Amanda

@kimmy- The point everyone is trying to make is that they decided to cohabitate BEFORE getting married BECAUSE they weren't sure they were one hundred percent committed. Some women aren't so insecure that they feel the need to nail a guy down before making sure it's the right decision for THEM.

Hayley Currier

Payton, I did all of that in 2007 and I tell you it was a bit overwhelming but mostly just exciting!!  I'm pretty sure nothing compares to the feeling of starting your life together with someone who is also a virgin, after a big wedding, an awesome honeymoon and a place that is all your own and new to both!  I'm glad we had that opportunity rather than move into a place that already belonged to one of us, or lived together before the wedding.  I guarantee the wedding/honeymoon would not have been even half as special as it was.  However, I'm not at all insulting your choices.  I'm very glad to hear about your marriage and happiness together. :)

1swee... 1sweetmommma

I'm happily living with my hunny. We were friends for 10 years before we got together & have been living together for 4 years now. I would gladly live this way the restof my life, really. It's just a piece of paper to me anyways. Any reltionship, contractual or otherwise is only as valid as the people involved. The only reason we want to get married is so that he can put me & my kids from a previouse marriage on his insurance and so that he can adopt said kids.

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