How to Decide Whether to Live Together Before Marriage

Young couple having wine while taking a break from painting their home

Marko Geber/DigitalVision/Getty

Living together before marriage was once considered taboo; however, it has become more common and accepted over time. If you’ve been seeing your partner and things are going well, the thought of moving in together may cross your minds.

Moving in with your partner is a significant step because it marks a major progression in the relationship, says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City.

This article explores some of the factors to consider while deciding whether to live with your partner before marriage, as well as some potential advantages and disadvantages of this arrangement.

Factors to Consider

Below, Romanoff lists some of the factors to consider while deciding whether to live with your partner before marriage.

Your Reasons for Wanting to Live Together

The first factor to consider is your motivation for moving in with your partner. Partners who move in out of financial convenience or to test their relationship may be less satisfied with their decision in the long run and in turn, may not end up getting married.

This is in contrast to couples who decide to move in together out of their genuine desire to spend more time together and deliberately fuse their lives. You should want to learn more about your partner and progress your relationship.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Remember the importance of choosing your partner because you want to be with them, and don’t let your decisions be made out of fear or convenience.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Your Age and Stage of Life

Age and stage of life are other important considerations. It can be helpful to give each other space to live alone or with friends before taking this step, so that each partner is able to experience a range of independent and peer living situations before committing to living with each other.

Once people have experienced these varied living arrangements, they tend to appreciate their partners and don’t feel as if they are missing out on experiences their peers are having.

Your Conversations With Your Partner

It’s important to make the deliberate decision to move in together instead of casually easing into cohabitation. Sliding into cohabitation can be risky because it bypasses important decisions and conversations that will cause more problems down the road.

For instance, you may slowly start to spend more time at one of your homes and think it makes sense to move in together out of convenience or financial incentive. You may then consider marriage because you’ve lived together for so long, already invested so much time into your partner, and think you might not be able to find someone else at this point in your life.

Instead, it is important to consciously decide to move in together and have conversations with your partner about financial arrangements, who will be responsible for maintaining what, and how space will be allocated to incorporate both people’s values and beliefs.

Implications of Living Together Before Marriage

Moving in with your partner can have significant implications for your relationship. Romanoff outlines some of these below.

Increased Commitment

Before you move in, there are more opportunities for refuge. If you have a fight, are annoyed, or are frustrated with each other, you can always return to your own space.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Moving in means committing to the good and bad in each other and in your relationship. You each are committing to show up and stay together on the good as well as the bad days.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Increased Investment

Moving in together means that you are investing in the relationship in a more substantial way. The next progressive step after moving in is usually a more formal commitment like marriage or alternatively, if things do not work out, a breakup.

Breakups after moving in together are significantly more complicated because you must separate your lives, which tend to become blended in elaborate ways.

Increased Trust

Living together also means that you’re pledging to show each other the parts of yourself that may have remained hidden up until this part of your relationship. You risk vulnerability and exposing all of your little rituals or quirky habits.

You have to trust your partner and make this commitment with the confidence that your relationship will not only survive but will become stronger after knowing these parts of each other.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Romanoff shares some of the advantages and disadvantages that people commonly experience when they decide to live together before marriage.

Advantages of Living Together Before Marriage

The advantage of living together before marriage is the opportunity to learn how you would navigate a life together, without the internal and external pressure that comes with marriage.

For many, marriage signifies a commitment that cannot be easily undone. The weight that comes with that commitment, especially from family members or friends, can skew problems or conflicts that may arise in a relationship.

The benefit of living together pre-marriage is that you can learn more about each other, strengthen your joint ability to problem-solve, and reinforce your relationship and ability to navigate stressors, which can instill more confidence in your decision to get married.

Disadvantages of Living Together Before Marriage

The downside of living together before marriage relates to the tendency for some couples to make less of a commitment to each other or feel less content with their arrangement.

Individuals who decide to cohabitate may have different expectations than their partners about the move. It can lead to challenges if one partner has more unconventional ideas about marriage and might grow complacent in this arrangement, whereas the other partner might expect marriage to follow this step.

It is important to consider the meaning of the move to each partner, especially if this move is motivated as a way to postpone making a commitment for one partner. And that meaning should be communicated to and by each partner as well.

Additionally, standards for cohabitating with a partner are usually lower than standards people have for marriage, which could cause some people to regret the time and energy spent on cohabitating if it does not ultimately lead to marriage.

A Word From Verywell

If you and your partner have been going steady and you’re starting to think about living together before marriage, you should be sure of your motivations before you move in. You should genuinely want to spend more time with your partner and learn more about them while being open to exposing yourself to them.

It’s also important to discuss finances, responsibilities, expectations for the future, and other important aspects of your relationship with your partner before you move in, so you’re both on the same page before you make this commitment.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project. Views on marriage and cohabitation in the U.S.