Dating nowadays is hard enough if you want to be in a long-term relationship.
In the dating world, there is so much uncertainty about when to make the next move or even if your partner’s feelings are genuine.
Do they really love you? Are they willing to spend the next couple of years with you, or even marry you?
People are now taking the time to answer these questions by truly getting to know their partners through cohabitation.
Cohabiting, or living together with your partner, is now common among couples in the United States, with 17 million people choosing to live together without being married.
Many of these couples choose to live together as they prepare to get married.
Living together also has a number of financial benefits, can help you gain a better understanding of your partner, and can help you and your partner make the transition into marriage smoothly (if those are your plans).
For millennials and gen Xers, it might be difficult to understand why cohabiting and living together with a partner is frowned upon.
After all, there are now a whopping 17 million people living together in the United States that aren’t married!
Among those are young adults that are part of the millennial and generation X members.
In this group, a total of 9.2% of millennials are currently cohabiting, while 5.2% of gen Xers are doing the same.
People of the younger generation might have heard the term “shacking up” used as a negative way to describe couples that were living together while not married.
Much of the negative stigma that comes with living together while not married has to do with Catholic and Christian beliefs.
Many churches and congregations today still believe that living together without being married is a sin, and is detrimental to someone’s moral character. These beliefs are rooted in religion.
Biblical and traditional Christian values state that sex before marriage is a sin and abstinence before marriage is the only way to do things according to God’s will.
Although there are now changing beliefs about sex before marriage, one thing is certain: couples who live together before marriage are more than likely having sex while in their home – and before getting married.
While your beliefs might not agree with this traditional Christian value, it can be hard to convince the almost 89% of grandparents 65 years and older who had two married parents growing up.
Although this isn’t necessarily a problem for millennials, there were laws against cohabiting that were once enforced but aren’t any longer. States such as:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
still have cohabitation laws that make it illegal to live together!
However, no prosecutor wants to take on these cases, so it is rare for someone to actually go to jail for living together with their partner.
Nevertheless, this legality is still deeply rooted in traditional American values, so some states (and parents) might still be against younger generations living together before marriage.
Freedom of Expression
Living together was a bit of a rarity in conservative America before the 1960s. However, since then, living together is now the norm for many couples.
At some point, living together without first getting married was also seen as an act of freedom, which is why during the 1960s and 1970s, many couples viewed living together as a progressive statement to break barriers!
The normalization of living together before marriage now shows that these couples might have just succeeded in improving the views of couples living together before marriage.
Although there are some people that might still be against the idea of cohabiting, and there might still be a bit of a stigma associated with this act, studies show that living together before has been normalized in the past 20 years.
It might also surprise you to know that studies also show that people who choose to cohabit before marriage are much more likely to be:
- Older – it isn’t just millennials and gen Xers that are moving in together, but also older couples post-divorce, those that don’t have any children, or those whose children have moved on to other homes and are now grown up.
- More racially diverse
- More likely to have never married
- More educated
- More likely to earn a higher wage
In addition, the goals of living together are mostly the same – marriage.
Although you might think that your partner asking to live with you is simply out of convenience for them, studies show time and time again that most couples choose to live together because they eventually want to marry their partners.
Thus, it should be noted that there are lots of benefits for these couples that can help them get ready for marriage.
Couples who choose to cohabit together and want to get married are likely to see the benefits of this decision.
However, there are also other benefits for couples that don’t want to get married as their end goal.
Below are some reasons why couples might choose to sign a lease before signing a marriage certificate.
Marilyn Monroe is famous for saying “If you can’t handle me at my worse, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
Whether or not you think this statement isn’t true, many couples take this statement to heart.
How can you want to marry someone when you’re not sure if they’ll be able to handle you at your worst?
Just the same, would you be able to handle someone at their worst and stick by their side?
With the divorce rate still at 50%, it’s clear that couples don’t want to risk becoming another statistic and would rather live together to prepare for the worst and be ready for when the time for marriage comes.
In addition, living with someone allows you to see their:
- Work habits
- Eating habits
- Financial and spending habits
- Sleep habits
- Sexual habits
- How they handle stress
Virtually all aspects of someone’s personality are in full view when living with them.
Seeing this can help you determine whether or not you truly want to spend the rest of your life with them.
In addition to seeing how someone acts as a person when you’re not around (since you’ll be around all the time), living together also allows you two to practice sharing responsibilities.
Whether that’s knowing who does what chores, taking out the trash, or finding out who uses more electricity, all of these are responsibilities that you two can learn to share in order to make your future marriage and family household more successful.
Sharing expenses is perhaps one of the best reasons to live with a partner.
By cutting the rent in half and cutting your expenses down, you can save money to buy a bigger house, get a better apartment, save up for a wedding, or even set aside money for a future child or college fund.
Not only can you be more financially stable, but you can also improve your overall quality of life if you move in with a partner that is also sharing your expenses. Granted, this only works if you and your partner are sharing the bills evenly!
We all love coming home to a peaceful home and being able to unwind. For some couples, coming home to their partner allows them to feel closer to them.
Many couples might even spend nights with their partner already.
This might be a big benefit for couples that work long hours and find it difficult to make time for dates. Date nights can be as simple as having dinner at home!
Although there is a wide range of benefits for couples who cohabitate, there is a bit of a downfall to living together.
Studies show that people who cohabitate together have a higher chance of divorcing. This is due to what’s known as the “premarital cohabitation effect.”
However, it should be noted that these risks are mostly associated with couples who don’t plan on marrying (but do it anyway).
On the plus side, studies also show that cohabiting poses little risk of divorcing and having a lower quality of relationship and has no significant role between cohabiting couples with plans to marry.
What can we learn from these studies? We should learn that living together with your partner should be a mutual decision.
You should also discuss with your partner the reasoning behind your decision to live together.
Do you want to live together because you eventually want to get married? Is it for financial reasons?
Having the time to discuss with your partner before and during your cohabitation might help decrease the risk of an impending failed relationship or divorce.
In addition, if you want to date someone but have no plans on marrying or having children, you can still enjoy the financial benefits of living together with them, in addition to having a number of sexual benefits and being able to be closer with your partner.
Many couples that live together do so in order to prepare for marriage.
Many of these couples view cohabitation as a way to understand their partner better, save up for marriage, and be closer to their partner as the option of marriage grows closer.
However, like all relationships, it’s important to be open with your partner about your intentions for living together.
Although more couples living together are now older, higher-income earners, and more educated, this still doesn’t get rid of the risks of impending divorce and break-ups for people who live together without being clear about their relationship goals beforehand.