So recently there has been a lot of buzz over the topic of cohabitation before marriage and why it is the norm these days. In a recent blog post I read, I was blown away by how poorly the topic was transcribed. The author, in defending her choice to live with her boyfriend, bashed anyone who has waited until marriage to live together, saying that we are judgmental prudes and are complete idiots for not “testing the waters” prior to the lifelong commitment of marriage. I want to preface my following words by saying that the point of this post is not to bash the other side of this topic, but to explain why I am against cohabitation before marriage for myself. I couldn’t give a flying monkey what other individuals' lifestyle choices are. You want to move in together before marriage? Fine by me! Need any help moving your stuff?
I have many friends and even family members who are or have cohabitated with their significant other before marriage, and I completely support them and do not judge any of them one bit. How you live your life is your choice. In the past, it was considered completely faux pas to openly live with your significant other before marriage. People would often be judgmental and automatically label you as a tramp. Today, on the other hand, is a complete 180. I know that oftentimes when I tell people that I don’t plan to live with my boyfriend before marriage, they either look at me like I am certifiably nuts or like they are completely turned off by me because they assume I’m just a judgmental Catholic who lives for pointing out the “sins” of other people. Of course I love my boyfriend and think waking up next to him every morning would be a literal heaven, but I just know myself and know that it is not what is in my best interest. I definitely think there should be respect for both sides of the spectrum, and just like individuals shouldn’t have to defend their choice to cohabitate before marriage, I shouldn’t have to defend my choice not to. The following is my list of reasons why waiting until marriage to live together is the best choice for me.
1. I was never the type of girl to obsess over my future wedding.
Sure, when I was little I often wondered what kind of man I would marry, but I was never the girl that dreamed of the white dress or the flowers. I was always more concerned with the actual marriage. I dreamed of the big, yellow house with the wrap-around porch that my husband and I would move into after our honeymoon. (I’ll most likely not get to live in a house right away, but a girl can only dream, right?) I dreamed of us sitting on our porch swing cuddled up together and literally admiring my wedding ring, looking around and wondering how I was so fortunate to be married to such an amazing man and truly join our life together in marriage, including moving in together post-wedding.
2. The level of commitment between "dating" and "married."
Statistically, it is well known that the first year of marriage is the most difficult. I know that a major argument for living together before marriage is to test it out, get used to living together, and to figure out how each other works on a more intimate and consistent level before tying the knot. Here is my thing: if I am going to marry someone, I am going to marry them regardless of what they live like. I actually look forward to what the challenge of the first year of marriage will hold. I feel that being married will only serve as a safety net knowing that typically, people will work harder to save a marriage than to save a dating relationship. Yes, it will be tough to figure out how each other works, get on a schedule, and learn to live with the annoying little quirks that each of us possess, but bring it on. I want to put my marriage vows to the ultimate test.
3. I'm terrified of him walking out on me.
Now, I know that people can easily walk out on a marriage, especially with the divorce rates so high these days, but I take people leaving me to heart, especially since I know that I sometimes am not the easiest person to love, let alone live with. I literally feel like everyone is going to leave me no matter how much they love me. My aunt used to always say something that would always make me laugh because it really does seem so logical. She would say, “Shack up because it’s easier to pack up.” The thing is, she is right and that terrifies the heck out of me, which is just another reason for me to ensure that it’s as difficult as possible for him to pack up.
4. I'm terrified of walking out on him.
While I take people leaving me to heart, I am definitely a person who runs for the hills when people feel too emotionally close or things get a little tough relationship-wise. It’s a defense mechanism that has occasionally been a blessing in my life, but more often than not has been a complete burden due to major trust issues. I need that marriage license to keep me grounded, to keep me from running. I need to be all in so that I hesitate before rashly moving my stuff out.
5. I love change.
I am a person who loves change and yearns for new and exciting opportunities. With the newness of marriage, I cannot wait for the newness and adventure of also moving in together. While convenient to have everything figured out prior, I don’t want everything to be the same after I get married. I don’t want to go back to the same exact house/apartment, paying the same bills, and sleeping in the same shared bed as prior to the wedding. I want life to truly feel different. I don’t want to feel like all that changed is that our union is now recognized by the state with a license and by the church with a sacrament.
6. I am horrible at making decisions.
I have never been one to have a “gut feeling.” I am far too complicated for that. I am the type of girl who makes pros and cons lists for literally everything and still never feels 100 percent about the decisions that I make. I also know that I don’t want to make a pros and cons list to decide if I should marry my future husband. If I have to, then I shouldn’t be with him. So in my personal situation, I need that wedding ring before I move in with someone so I will already know that I made the right choice and will have finally had that “gut feeling” letting me know that everything is going to be OK.
7. It's what will feel the most special to me.
This is definitely a personal opinion and goes along with No. 5. I am sure that moving in with your significant other is special no matter what, so full of excitement and looking forward to this awesome adventure that you have jumped into together. I have just always dreamed of standing up in front of my family, friends, and God to verbalize my vows and become truly joined as one in both marriage and in life. I see so much beauty in going from “him” and “her” to “us” and in the same way going from “his place” and “her place” to “our place” after being joined through the sacrament of marriage. Like I said, definitely a personal choice, but I own it.
So I understand where all of you pro-cohabitation-before-marriage individuals are coming from. Yes, it is definitely more cost-friendly and yes it probably is wonderful to wake up next to the person that you love every single day. For those of you in a long-term relationship who aren’t quite ready for marriage but want to take that next step in your relationship in order to avoid the negative effects of a stagnant period in your relationship, trust me, I get it. People have different visions of themselves and what they want out of their life. The important thing is that you see and respect both sides of every opinion. The way that someone lives their life whether it be not living with their significant other, marrying someone of the same sex, or not going to church on Sunday in no way affects the way that you live your life, so stop acting like it does. If someone is a little more conservative or old-fashioned in their lifestyle choices, it certainly doesn’t mean that they are close-minded, but perhaps that their heart needs something different than yours. Everyone fights different demons. Regardless, love everyone despite their personal choice on cohabitating before marriage, because more than anything, this world could definitely use more love.