When you’re dating and falling in love, you get to make a lot of decisions that could alter the course of your life. Should you continue dating? Move in together? Maybe even get married?
These questions are things people deal with all the time, and it can be stressful. One thing’s for sure though – moving in together before marriage is becoming a mainstream habit in our society today. People see it as a way to “test the waters” before actually making it legal, but there are some serious risks when you decide to live together without being married.
If you’re think about moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, consider these 7 things before you sign the lease:
1. You’re more likely to “slide into marriage”
Couples who date without living together are more likely to break up if they have serious differences, but couples who live together typically stay together and get married, only to find themselves in unhappy marriages. There are plenty of cohabiting couples who do end up breaking up or go on to be happily married, but some find it easier to stay together, even if it’s unhealthy (researchers credit “inertia” for this phenomenon).
2. It leads to instability for kids
According to a study reported by NPR, children who came from divorce are more wary about getting married, and even end up putting if off. They’re also more likely to have kids with their partner without getting married.
Additionally, cohabiting couples are twice as likely to split than couples who get married. This creates more problems and instability for children born into a cohabitation environment.
3. It makes commitment more difficult
When you decide to move in with a partner, you really have to think about whether you’re doing it for the right reasons (outlined very well in this NYTimes article). In marriage, a couple gets married because they love each other and consciously choose to spend their life with another person.
However, when people decide to live together before marriage, they often do it for the wrong reasons, or at least less-right motives. Splitting living costs, sharing pets and having a person to share responsibilities with sounds like a good, economical idea, but there’s not an emotional commitment there.
4. Couples are more likely to divorce
Study after study has shown that cohabiting couples who marry after a period of time have a higher divorce rate. This results from a variety of factors, but a big one is the commitment issue discussed in the previous point.
5. Cohabitation leads to lower marital satisfaction
When you enter a marriage, you go in with the mindset that you’ll make anything work because you love each other, but walking out of a cohabiting situation is legally easier than divorcing. So you move in with each other thinking that you can just break up if it doesn’t work. This results in both people in the relationship not giving their all to make it work, and therefore leads to lower marital satisfaction.
6. Infidelity is more likely
According to an article by Thriving Couples Counseling, couples who move in together instead of getting married have higher infidelity rates. They report, “Cohabiting men are four times as likely as husbands to report infidelity in the past year” (2008), while “Cohabiting women are eight times more likely than wives to cheat on their partners.”
7. Cohabitation means different things to men and women
We all know men and women think differently, and in general, men and women have a completely different idea of what cohabitation means.
According to the Berkley Science Review, “Women are more likely to see cohabitation as a pre-cursor to marriage, where men who cohabitate prior to engagement are less likely to have this long-term view of cohabitation and are less dedicated to their partners.”
It’s crucial to remember not every cohabiting relationship is doomed to break up or divorce. There are some that work wonderfully. However, if you’re committed to your partner and they’re committed to you, marriage is probably the way to go so you both can just avoid the risks that come with cohabitation.