Living Together Before Marriage


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It is amazing how many Black men are unprepared for the adjustments and responsibilities of living with a woman, or as my grandmother used to say - "shacking up". Whether those living arrangements are based on marriage, other significant relationships, or just two people deciding to split the bill, sharing space with the opposite sex can be both challenging and rewarding.

The number of unmarried couples living together has increased tremendously over the past few years, and this trend will likely continue for many more years. After all, living together before marriage helps couples better understand each other, and allows them to experience all of their compatibility issues before the real marriage happens, right?

Not necessarily.

Couples who live together before marriage often believe that things will be easier once they're married since the intricate details about their mate have already been discovered. They know each other's faults, weaknesses, joys, pains - and they surely know when the other is upset.

But marriage adds an extra dimension to the universe. It places the couple within a lifelong bond that each person should honor and cherish. Problems inevitably arise when one or both persons feel that the marriage isn't living up to what they dreamed it would be.

Extensive research during the late 80s to mid 90s involving couples who lived together, strongly suggested that marriage preceded by cohabitation had a detrimental effect on married life. Marriages where couples lived together before signing the dotted line, had a greater risk of separation or divorce than marriages where the couple did not cohabitate before being legally attached.

You would think the opposite is true, but couples who live together prior to marriage may lack the motivation to continue dealing with the same issues they had before marriage. Women often believe that men will change their behaviors once married. Men naively think that their new wives will act like they did before marriage. Both are usually wrong.

On the other hand, couples who have not lived together before marriage, have no terms or conditions written in stone. They begin their relationship assuming that they are there for the long haul, and any problems that arise need to be handled. Couples who live together for years know that if the other screws up, they can always leave. Sadly, this mindset carries over into marriage and helps create those staggering divorce rates.

The decision to live together before marriage is one each couple has to ponder and eventually answer. It can be financially and emotionally rewarding for some, while others discover things that ultimately drives them away.

Living together may prove to be beneficial in the beginning, but it usually provides no proof of future happiness or compatibility.

Of course you could be perfectly happy living together and even happier once married. The only way to find out is to live with someone and eventually get married - the order in which you do it is up to you.

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