Disclaimer: typically I hate disclaimers, because I shouldn’t have to apologize for having an opinion or sharing my life experience with my readers, but I’ll give you one anyway. This is not a condemnation of couples who choose to cohabitate, nor is it a religious post… these are 4 logical reasons J and I decided not to cohabitate before marriage, and why I recommend it to every engaged couple I know.
I have an amazing marriage. Even though it’s not without it’s problems, I credit a lot of our success to our more “traditional” practices, including not living together before we were married. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my news feed was full of couples announcing their engagements which made me feel happy and nostalgic about mine and J’s engagement period. I began to think about how “different” we are than a lot of other people our age, but how I wouldn’t change a thing about the way we prepared ourselves for marriage. So, without further ado, here are the reasons why we chose to live separately:
- It was cheaper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard couples try to justify living together before marriage because “it’s more affordable.” Really? Allow me to explain why you’re wrong. I was splitting the cost of rent and utilities with 2 other women. J was splitting his costs with 3 other men. The more people you have sharing the cost, the less each of you have to pay. I really don’t see how J and I living together in a house and being responsible for all the costs would have been the more economical choice.
- We were trying to practice chastity. Now, I don’t want to argue with you about chastity, but I will say this… remember those days of raging teenage hormones that had you in a perpetual state of lusting? Yeah, chances are you didn’t make the best life decisions back in those days, at least I know I personally didn’t. When I went away to college, I promised myself I wouldn’t be guided by sexual desire ESPECIALLY when it came to looking for a future spouse. Why didn’t we ‘seal the deal’ after our engagement? Because, contrary to popular belief, engagement is still a trial period. Granted, it’s a more serious, more committed time in your relationship, but it’s your last chance to make sure you’re picking the right person to spend the rest of your life with. I knew if I gave myself over physically and emotionally, my judgment would be completely clouded. I can’t tell you how many of my friends I have seen justify their boyfriends bad behavior because they gave themselves over too soon. Again, not a judgement, just my personal experience. I wanted a clear head. It was much easier to commit to chastity when I wasn’t going to sleep next to the love of my life every night [and trust me, it was still hard, even though we lived apart].
- “How do you know if some one is good for you unless you live with them first?” I’m calling BS on this argument too. In fact, I think living together before your married tells you LESS about a person as opposed to more. When you live together, decisions are easier. You don’t have to coordinate pick ups or drop offs, you just do what you want to do together. When you live apart, every choice involves communication. “Where do you want to meet? What time do you want to go? What time do you need to be home? Is there anything you need to get done before we leave or can I come over before?” Any old married couple will tell you how key communication is in a relationship. Living apart forces you to communicate with your future spouse, and I think that practice makes perfect. There is a lot of coordination and communication that has to happen when you live apart, and it made a huge difference for us in learning how we communicate.
- Bachelorette Pad. I got married 10 days after I turned 21. That’s pretty young, especially for some one of my generation. What I hear most often from college sweethearts is that they feel like they didn’t get to take advantage of their “best years” before tying the knot. Living apart from my future spouse gave me one last shot at living it up as an unmarried woman. I could dance in my underwear, invite all my girlfriends over late at night, binge on ice cream while watching chick flicks endlessly, have people stay the night, be as clean or as messy as I wanted to be, have pink curtains and a hot pink bedspread… I mean, the list goes on. I didn’t have Justin waiting up for me, expecting me home at certain times, wanting to eat every meal with me, or not wanting to have all my crazy friends over at what would have been “our house.” I got to spend time with him, and then go get to be a crazy girl on my own time. The fact of the matter is this, the “two” hadn’t “become one” yet, so there was no reason to pretend or act like we had. I mean, if you’re getting married you literally have the REST of your lives to figure out how to “become one” …it certainly doesn’t need to start the moment your realize your boyfriend is “the one.”
Anyway, I know every person/relationship is different, but I am so glad J and I did things the way that we did. I feel like we had a really solid foundation before I walked down that aisle, and the ways living separately forced us to grow, were invaluable tools that helped us survive that first year of marriage.