Moving in Together Before Marriage

Their old-school parents may not be thrilled, but more and more couples are deciding to sign a lease together before they sign a marriage license together. It’s not something that’s only affecting millennials in their twenties and early thirties, either, as recent numbers indicate that an increasing number of couples over 50 are also opting to live together first. Roughly half of all cohabiters are younger than 35, though, and as of 2016, there were about 18 million Americans living with a partner without being married to that partner. While there’s some research indicating that living together increases the risk of divorce down the line, other evidence indicates those fears are overblown. Despite the statistics, it’s an incredibly personal choice, and what’s right for some couples is going to be completely wrong for others.

Discuss expectations

For many couples, moving in together is a sign that two people are getting really serious about each other, although they aren’t quite ready to get engaged yet. It’s typically considered a significant step towards marriage. Other couples may not want to get married at all, or at least not for a good while. Either approach is fine as long as both members of the couple are on the same page. Ideally, the “Should we move in together?” question is the first question in a long discussion about what the relationship means now, as well as what it might mean in the future. Are you guys ready to receive your mail at the same address, and to wake up next to each other every single morning rather than just most mornings? Is one of you willing to rent a storage unit so everything will fit into a one-bedroom apartment, or is it worth it to spring for two bedrooms?

Finding the right balance is a critical part of any relationship. One partner shouldn’t feel like they barely have a say in the relationship, because if that’s true, then they’ll gradually start to feel like they really don’t matter. That kind of resentment can build up and become incredibly toxic. One or both sides can also get frustrated without a clear timeline in place. Saying, “I want to propose eventually” isn’t as good as saying. “I want to propose within the next year.” It’s fine to talk about engagement rings first. It’s even OK to visit a place like Bromberg’s jewelry store together to get a good idea of what kind of rings your partner likes. It’s not OK to do that and then get mad when your partner asks you when they should expect an engagement. Sure, asking about it every day is going overboard. But if you keep talking about marriage, it can be downright cruel to refuse to take any concrete steps towards that goal.

Adjust to the new reality

The idea of moving in together can be really fun and exciting. Once the moving trucks are gone and it’s just the two of you, together, in the same house or apartment, that sense of fun can be replaced by a stressful period of adjustment. You’ll likely discover a lot of new things about your partner, and not all of it is going to be pleasant. Sure, it’s great that you no longer have to drive back and forth between separate residences, but now you also can’t get away from each other, and every couple needs a bit of breathing room. Try to find a way to give each other space while also continuing to have date nights. It’s cool that you and your significant other now share a bank account at Community West Credit Union, but that’s no reason to take the relationship for granted. Remember that being together is a choice, and then choose to nurture that shared connection every single day.