Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Living Together Before Marriage

Last weekend, Derrick and I signed a lease for a one bedroom apartment together.  We have been living together for the past five months in the apartment leased to me that I have been living in for the last nine, but now it's "name on the dotted line" official.

To make the situation clear: Derrick and I are twenty-three and have been dating since college.  We're not married and we're not engaged.  Obviously we're in a very serious relationship but right now we're more worried about figuring out careers and how to cook frozen chicken than starting a family.

Yet we're still living together.  Moving in together before marriage can be a touchy subject and I know people who feel strongly both ways.

As normal humans, most of us are inclined to think that the way we do things is the way things should be done.  And I am definitely not immune to this, so you should take my opinion with that grain of salt.

But this is my blog, so this is the opinion you're going to get.


1. You learn his or her "at home" behavior.

No matter how long you date someone, if you’re not living together, there’s always that opportunity to be on your “best behavior.”  Even if you’re spending all day, every day together, you still have that time when you go home to your home.  For some of you (I’m not sure who), the “at home” you might be the same as the “in daylight” you.  But let’s be real: for most people, it isn’t.

For me, the “at home” me is exhausted, hungry, and often frazzled.  I just spent an hour on a public bus after a long day of work and want nothing more than to melt on the couch and not think for a while. Consequently, the "at home" me is sometimes cranky, often boring, and almost always in bed before eleven.

That’s easy to hide when you’re out to dinner or watching a movie at your boyfriend's place on a Saturday night.  But I really believe that the “at home” you isn’t fully revealed until you move in together.

But when you're married, the “at home” you is part of the package.  So in my opinion, it's a good person for your significant other to meet.

2. You learn what you can and cannot tolerate.

Living together throws at you some obstacles that you don’t even know exist before you move in together.

For example, I wouldn’t think to ask Derrick is he likes watching TV before bed (whereas I can’t sleep with it on).  And Derrick probably wouldn’t know to ask if dirty dishes in the sink drive me nuts (whereas he doesn’t really mind them).

But when you live together, these things come out.  Sometimes, these things turn out to be no big deal and you can work them out.

But when you get married (so I hear), you’re getting a lot thrown at you all at once and I'd imagine that the last thing you want to worry about is small annoyances buzzing around your head like flies or "soaking" in the kitchen sink.  The small peeves might seem like they don't matter when you’re thinking about them from a distance, but when you’re living your daily life, it’s the little things that can get to you the most.

They could still turn out to be no big deal, or they could be the dirty dinner plate that breaks your young marriage.  Wouldn't you want to find out if you're "living compatible" before you've promised "forever"?

3. You learn what makes him or her tick.

I read this post on the Life of Bon a few weeks ago that I thought was interesting (and got me writing this post).  In the post, Bon (an extrovert) talks about the struggles of being married to an introvert.  She didn't truly know how introverted her husband was before they got married and their clash of personalities (party all weekend Bon vs Netflix Friday night husband) was (and still is) putting a strain on their marriage.

It sounds like Bon and her husband are able to work through this, but what if a couple can't?  Or what if they just don't want to?  As a more introverted person, I'm not sure that I would want to deal with someone who thrives off of being around people.  It would just wear me out.

And along the same line as #1, I think that this is something you should work out before you're wearing a wedding ring.

4. You practice compromise.

Learning to compromise isn't something you can only do while living with someone.  But moving in together makes compromise so routine that you sometimes don't even realize you're doing it.

For Derrick and me, things like "I'll take out the trash if you get the laundry" or "let's eat in and save money tonight then go out tomorrow" are so typical that I don't even notice them anymore.  But it's definitely something we had to learn.  And I definitely think it's vital for a lasting (and healthy) relationship.

Again, you can learn to do this without moving in together.  But when you're living your day to day life with someone else, you have no other choice but to learn how effective compromise works... other than just "Chinese or pizza for dinner tonight?"

Maybe you were shaking your head the whole time you were reading this.  That's alright.  Or maybe you agreed with every point I made.  And that's okay too.  It's all okay.  No one can tell someone else how to live because no one knows all the facts about someone else's life.

This is just my opinion.  But the way I see it, you usually test drive a new car before you spend all that money buying it.  So along the same line, why wouldn't you want to "test drive" a marriage before people throw down the moolah for that KitchenAid Mixer on your Wedding Gift Registry?

And now you know, Hump Day.

What do you think about moving in before marriage?  For it, against it, or don't really care?
For the married peeps out there: did you live together before you got hitched?

Want more tea? Have a second cup!
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1 comment:

  1. The onhy way I can see someone arguing against living together first is they're religiously against it.
    Now that I have lived with my boyfriend I can't imagine not loving with someone before committing to be with them forever.