Why Moving In with Your Partner Sometimes Leads to a Less than Satisfying Marriage

Cohabitating, or living with your partner before marriage, is sometimes regarded as a bad idea. There is even research that shows couples who live together and then marry actually have higher rates of divorce. However, how people decide to move in together can make a huge difference in the success or failure of their future marriage.

The Rising Trend of Living Together Before Marriage

The data shows that the number of unwed couples who live together has risen greatly. There were about 450,000 couples who were not married but living together in 1960. Today that number has grown by a whopping 1,500 percent to about 7.5 million couples. There are several reasons why this is occurring (other than increased total population), including:

  • The availability of contraception.
  • Ease of sharing expenses.
  • The belief that living together first helps determine whether you and your partner will be a good fit in marriage.

Research shows that two-thirds of young people believe that living together first helps couples avoid facing divorce later on. However, the opposite is sometimes true, and for a very specific reason.

Sliding vs. Deciding

Often, at the start of a relationship, the couple begins sleeping over at each other’s apartment or home. At some point, they then decide it is more practical to just move in together. This situation is called sliding, which is the opposite of deciding.

When a couple “slides” into living together, there is no formal discussion made by the couple and no mention that living together has any particular meaning for them. Additionally, sliding couples don’t reaffirm their love for each other nor do they talk about the significance of this decision. In fact, the decision to live together often happens without any consideration for the future of the relationship at all.

Differences Between Men and Women

The choice to move in together tends to be different for men and women. Women tend to view moving it as a step towards marriage. Men usually view it less seriously than women do. They often even consider it a testing ground to see if they like living with their partner. This can create a relationship mismatch for heterosexual couples, which can lead to negative consequences for the future of their relationship.

As a result, the couple’s commitment level to one another is very low.  Even if they eventually do get married, this mismatch regarding individual perception of the relationship will continue in the marriage.

It’s Harder to Get Out than Get In

Once in a sliding relationship, it is often harder to get out of it than it was to get in. Why?

  • It’s often cheaper to live together and split the bills.
  • Couples buy house items together, such as furniture or a television.
  • They become part of a common group of friends and social networks.

So how do you decide whether or not to move in together before marriage? While it’s not an easy decision, it’s clear that having thoughtful discussions with your partner before moving in and making an intentional choice (or “deciding”) about the direction of your relationship will positively impact both of your lives and your relationship.

How Should We Have “The Talk?”

If you and your partner are planning to move in together, consider these tips:

1. Each of you should discuss your motivations for moving in. Is it because it’s convenient or because both of you are ready to take the next step in the relationship?

2. What is your level of commitment to one another? If there is a mismatch, you need to know and proceed cautiously.

3. If there is any uncertainty, don’t hesitate to seek therapy to help.

Moving in together is a big step and signals that both of you are willing to make a deeper commitment to each other both in terms of the relationship and also financially. Make sure that this is the right decision for both of you, and avoid doing so out of convenience (unless you both clearly feel the same way after a thorough discussion).

Be sure not to avoid this important dialogue with your partner, and if there are any lingering questions be sure to consult with a therapist for help.

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