When you and your partner are making big decisions about your future, especially in regards to marriage, you’ll inevitably discuss your living situation. This conversation can be tricky, especially because there are so many factors involved — your careers, your beliefs, and your financial situations, to name a few. There are plenty of cases where living together before marriage is a healthy step for a couple, but couples consultant Lesli Doares says that there are situations where being roomies without rings can lead to a negative outcome.
You can tell if you and your partner are nearing this territory if you view moving in together as an expectation in your relationship, Doares said. Sometimes, couples view moving in together and/or getting engaged as the obvious thing to do after dating for a long time, and while these steps are certainly important ones, they don’t have a deadline and don’t need to happen for every couple. “Unfortunately, many couples slide into living together because it’s the expected next step,” Doares said. “The forward motion isn’t done with intention, but from a state of inertia.”
Oftentimes, couples will choose to take these steps in lieu of breaking up, Doares said. Couples in these situations will choose to live together (especially before committing to a long-term relationship or to marriage) because they want to avoid the real issues in their relationship. “This ‘sliding not deciding’ is potentially damaging,” she said. “It is a sign of settling and complacency, neither of which is good for long-term success.”
By neglecting to acknowledge these issues upfront, Doares said that these couples are risking the health of their relationship in the long run. In contrast to couples that make an active decision to live together (either before or after marriage), partners who default to cohabitating actually sabotage their future chances for success.
To avoid doing this, Doares recommends being intentional in your decisions with your partner. For example, if you know that the ultimate goal of your relationship is a marriage but your partner isn’t so sure, don’t use living together as a means to get what you want. Conversely, if you move in together because you both want a house that’s great for a family and have decided to have kids, you’re in great shape, because you’re being intentional in your decision-making together.
What factored into your decision to live with your partner? Let us know @BritandCo!
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