My boyfriend and I are in our early 30s, been together for 18 months and neither one of us are ready for marriage. We live 10 minutes apart, been discussing living together, simplifying our lives and saving on living expenses.
I wonder if we did live together how this would affect our relationship? Is it a good idea to “test drive” our relationship?
Wondering in Waimea
Aloha Wondering in Waimea,
Kudos for taking a proactive approach on living together, lowering your expenses and reaching out for support on this important subject. Living together definitely deepens a relationship, explores how you function as a couple while finding out if this is “the one.”
Studies show over the past 50 years, the number of unmarried couples living together in the United States has drastically increased. In 1960 there were 439,000 by 1984 the number had jumped to 1,988,000, and, the 2010 the Census Bureau figure was 7,500,000 couples living together. However, since sociological research from the 1970s to today is not conclusive whether or not cohabitation leads to better or worse marriages, my suggestion to you would be to put less emphasis on these studies and more on your individual situation, emotional and financial needs.
Living together, does it work?
Living together before marriage can often work out the complexities in a relationship, helping to avoid painful breakups in the future (and costly divorces). Do your best not to immediately have children, think twice about purchasing the bedroom set and that cute dog. Before moving in together, explore the joys and passion of why you feel drawn to each other to live together. Discuss the pros and cons. Ask “Is this a step toward marriage?” “How so?” “How else are you defining the move outside of convenience and saving money?” “How comfortable are you expressing/dealing with challenges?”
It’s vital to discuss sensitive issues like finances, careers, leisure activities, children, and physical intimacy. Be flexible and tolerant to differing views and be able to laugh about any unpleasant habits.
Unfortunately, many couples “slide not decide” into living together out of convenience and don’t discuss their feelings about one another and the many issues of living together. Outside of religious morals, living together is a good (and, I believe, necessary) step prior to marriage. Regardless of the cost and possible broken hearts, be willing to end living together and the relationship if you are not feeling comfortable over time with the direction the relationship is going. Most importantly be honest and transparent with each other. Speak up, especially over the small stuff or concerns. Don’t hold back and be “nice” as repressed anger and dishonesty over time will disintegrate the relationship, married or not, which is easier said than done. By expressing your needs, wants and desires a successful, rock-solid lifelong, juicy relationship will blossom.
If you need assistance communicating and clearing these issues, especially since most of us carry “family junk” from our upbringing, seek out a relationship counselor/coach to guide you through and you’ll probably feel more in love and connected than ever before. So, if this is the “road test,” burn rubber, enjoy the ride of a lifetime and see how well the relationship handles the road.
• Cary Valentine is a certified relationship coach, author and wedding officiant. His passion is to assist couples, singles and families to overcome daily challenges and create a juicy life. For more info call (808) 346-6652. He welcomes your questions at: Cary@InLoveForever.tv