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Is cohabitation before marriage a good idea or bad?

If you're in a long-term relationship with your partner, I’m sure the idea of cohabitation has entered your mind if not entered in your conversations together. It's a big decision to make so I want to break down cohabitation into its components so you can better decide.

  1. Convenience: It may be that you're already spending so much time at your partners’ place that it already feels like your cohabiting. People can have such busy lives that quality time for a couple can become a rare commodity and cohabitation would fix this. You mightn't be sure yet if you want to get married but you know right now it would be convenient to live together.

  2. Money: From a financial point of view it’s cheaper having one place together rather than having two separate places. This is particularly true if you're both renting separate apartments. However in some countries cohabitation is a factor when applying for social benefits and/or bank loans. The government may see it the responsibility of one partner to provide some assistance to the other if they're unemployed. Be warned and get information as regards the laws of your particular country.

  3. Commitment: The topic of cohabitation can expose those are not really committed to the relationship. Cohabitation is a true sign that you believe in the relationship. However, bringing up cohabitation too soon could frighten away a partner too early that otherwise would have been, in time, committed to the relationship.

  4. Marriage Testing: Some people want to give a car a good tire kicking before they buy it. Cohabitation can act as a trial run to marriage to see if you can actually live together and able to cope with seeing each other at their worst. Its not until you enter cohabitation that you get to see them in there old clothes, see their dirty underwear or how often they shower etc.

  5. Tradition: Cohabitation breaks the idealized tradition of newlyweds leaving the church and walking off into the sunset to begin their new life together. If they're already cohabiting, then they've already been having this new life together and the wedding was essential just a big party for everyone. Some people might think of cohabitation before marriage to be like opening your Christmas presents a week before Christmas. When the big day of Christmas comes it might be a let down and a bit of an anti-climax.

  6. Happiness: Your partner may already make you so happy that you would like to be with them when they get up every morning and be there again at night. Relationships are a good source of happiness, relaxation and comfort that it just makes sense to you to be with them as much as you can. However, some things hold their value only when there're rare. Your time together will no longer be rare and cohabitation be expose any fundamental flaws in your relationship.

  7. Religion: The majority of the worlds religions prohibit sex before marriage. While very few people actually abstain from sex before marriage, cohabitation is like taking sex before marriage to the next level. Its like an open denunciation of your religions wishes. Whether this is a factor for you or not will depend on your family and friends and how staunch the religious factor is in the life your local community.

  8. Delayed Engagement: It could be the guys intention that if he cohabits with his partner that he can use this as an excuse to buy a few extra years before having to propose to her. His argument could be that because you're already living together, getting married means nothing more than having a big party and so can be put off. The fear then is that he may never pop the question.

My opinion?

Research has shown that women that live with their partners have a less likelihood of getting married. Why exactly this is the case is unclear. It could relate to point number 8 above but it could also be a result of a wider trend in society that marriage isn't as important as it used be.

In my opinion, cohabitation is a good idea if your relationship is strong and healthy. If it isn't, cohabitation will expose any weaknesses lurking under the surface. The decision is up to you :-)

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