Human relationships are complex and fragile. Sometimes, or increasingly of late, after seeing each other exclusively for a while, they talk about the possibility of co-habiting or living together before even contemplating marriage.
Of course there are those who are happy to consensually and permanently enter into a live in relationship without there ever being expectations of marriage. But most couples agree to live together hoping to base their decision about whether or not to get married on the outcome of the live in relationship.
Why is it that there are some couples ready to leap into marriage while there are others who would like to go through a 'trial period' before committing themselves to marriage? For living together may be considered just that - a 'sort of litmus test' if you may for marriage.
The reason most couples give for living together is, to check their "compatibility quotient." Others do it because it is convenient; they are anyway spending most of their time in each other's homes so why not conserve time and energy? Some have even decided to marry and live together in the engagement period, as it cuts their expenses and works out better economically. A small percentage even live together because most of their friends are in live-in relationships and they don't want to be considered the odd ones out. And in yet others, there is a basic, deep-rooted fear of a lifelong commitment like marriage, either because they have been hurt in the past or are offspring of traumatic divorces.
All said and done, living together is a big decision, one not to be taken lightly. It will have long-term repercussions on the relationship, so it's worth weighing the advantages and disadvantages and 'looking before you leap'.
Some of the apparent advantages of a live-in relationship could be:
You get to share expenses and suddenly all your expenditure is halved. Yet, you can have separate accounts and your 'own money'. You may not be as accountable to him for how and where you spend, as you may be in a marriage.
2. No messy divorce or legal issues
Since there are no prenuptial agreements or marriage contracts, you can walk away without any of the legal hassles that arise from a marriage. On an emotional level, there is no trauma of going through a divorce, it's much easier to love and leave.
3. Testing the waters
If one or both of you needs proof that you're right for each other and you manage to coexist smoothly, then you can make an informed decision about marriage.
4. Get to know the realities
When you're just dating, it's easy for him to conceal how messy he is or how much time he takes going through his morning. But once you start living together, you are able to explore every nuance of your significant other's personality, a chance to get acquainted with the real person. You may discover that her nagging really gets to you,.and you can't live with it.
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If you're one of those people who feel the walls close in on you when you're alone, the companionship is constant. You get all the comforts of being married without many of the pitfalls. You also get the advantages, like being able to have sex whenever you want to. However, the pitfalls of living together have also to be considered.
Since you've already anticipated most of the pleasures of marriage, when you do decide to get married, there really isn't that much to look forward to.
As a result, a couple can settle into this state of "unwedded bliss" and put off marriage indefinitely. In the event one of the partners is actually holding out for marriage or anticipating a proposal, this could pose a problem.
Research bears this out by indicating that only a small percentage of those living together actually marry and ironically, there's a high divorce rate among those married that have already lived together.
In case one of the partners or even the parents have a strong religious background which forbids 'living in sin', it sets a bad note for the relationship.
6. Issues to be resolved
Before living together, there are a number of issues that must be talked about and taken into consideration:
Are you absolutely sure about living together and have you talked about it in depth?
Are you both mature enough to make the decision?
Is one of the partners going to move into the other's place or are you both going to move into a new place?
Will you split all expenses evenly and maintain a record of the same or adopt a more lenient/flexible approach?
Would you like to make some investments together/in joint names or keep all financial matters totally separate?
These are just some of the many issues you may need to consider before taking the final step.
7. Breakdown of live-in relationships
Just like every stage of a relationship, living together inevitably runs into its fair share of trouble. Many of the complaints of live-in lovers appear no different from those who are married..
"He doesn't do his fair share of the housework, I shoulder the entire burden."
"She doesn't make the effort to look good like she used to when we were dating."
"We hardly talk any more."
"He finds time to see his mates but never makes the effort to take me out on a date."
"Sex has become so boring and predictable, not exciting like it used to be!"
"We're always arguing about money".
So while the complaints are the same,.the difference lies in the solution. In a marriage, because of vows taken and the consequences of making a rash decision, people try harder to work through a problem and see it to its logical solution. The price you pay is higher if you don't succeed.
In a live-in relationship, the tolerance levels are much lower and if you don't 'shape up you can ship out'. The difference between the two is the commitment levels. In a live-in relationship, individuals are trying to test whether they can make a go of it; in a marriage they're trying to make it work, no matter what!