I want to be clear from the start on this: I actually don’t think you should live together first. Religious reasons, real estate reasons, and what are people supposed to get you when you get married? You’re already living together, you’ve already bought everything you actually need! The idea bothers me, and I don’t support it.
That having been said, there are things you learn living with someone that take getting used to. You won’t learn about them unless you actually share a living space with them. There are also some definite perks for doing so. So here are seven reasons you should live with your significant other before you get married.
The two of you will save money if you do this, that’s irrefutable. Rent, utilities, food – all of them are cheaper split between a couple than for two single people. If you’re both working, that leaves even more income you can use for bills or having fun.
Pets are like children with fur. They’re fun, relaxing, and always brighten your day. But you need to be clear on them. You may say you like cats, but if you don’t know if you’re allergic then you need to find out fast. If you are, don’t just assume you can ask them to get rid of it. Your SO may be more attached to their pet than to you. You’ll have to get used to living around them, not stepping on them, and cleaning up after them. If you both have pets, then you have the added dynamic of your pets getting used to each other.
You may also be pleasantly surprised. Having a pet may help you discover parts of yourself you didn’t know you had. Exotic pets are their own challenge. Nothing compares to your first time holding a chinchilla. Or a tarantula. If you want to marry this person, living together with them and their pet is something you’ll have to face eventually. Better to take a test drive beforehand than to find out you can’t handle it after your honeymoon.
You Can Take Your Time Moving In
Once you have a wedding date, everything is on a timetable. The caterer, flowers, dress, and everything else your wedding needs will take time to plan, buy, and arrange. On top of all of this, you have to tackle that joy of joys: moving.
Moving is never fun, especially on a time crunch. It takes forever to go through everything and decide what you aren’t going to take, don’t use, and have to have. Even if you don’t whittle it down and just throw everything in boxes, it still takes you forever because then you can’t find anything once you start unpacking. You should also clean everything, including those areas under the bed and sofa that you haven’t been able to reach since the last administration. It won’t be pretty.
If you move in together with no date for marriage, you can take your time and get it done with minimal stress. You won’t have to take any days off of work, just move one box a day or a few on the weekends. You can end your lease at your old place when you want without having to worry about whether or not it conflicts with seeing the reception center or anything else. When you finally do have to clean the gross parts or move your favorite massive piece of furniture, you can do it knowing that it’s the most stressful thing you have to do that week and that you won’t be putting together announcements for a while, let alone the same week.
How You Spend Your Time
Living together saves a lot of time. Instead of having to schlep to their place across town, you can just reach over. Once you come home, anytime is time together. Whether you choose to go out is easier to decide when you’re already together, even if you end up staying home.
You also get to see what your SO is like when they aren’t with you. At some point, they’re going to let their guard down and show you who they are when they aren’t out trying to impress you. Maybe they have a hobby that is actually really cool. Maybe they talk in their sleep. The glimpses you’ve been getting of their true self will eventually turn into a front row IMAX viewing. Maybe you’ll love it or maybe you’ll run out screaming, but that show is coming soon. You may be happier seeing it before you have two kids and a house than after.
Sex and the Body
If you live together, you can have sex whenever you want. It’s the ultimate benefit. That beautiful body that satisfies every desire is yours, and yours is theirs. But be warned: when you commit to a human body, you get the whole package. Morning breath. Going to the bathroom in front of each other. Snoring. Taking care of them when they’re sick. Personal hygiene. Even a habit you have may fill you with disgust when you see your SO do it. You may have noticed a few while you’ve been dating, but once you start living together you may find a lot more than you ever expected. Sometimes these are endearing and actually make more grateful. Real people have flaws, and this real amazing person is with you. The rest you have to get over and live with.
Stuff in Your Place
When you live together you don’t need as much. You don’t both need a toaster, a flatscreen, or even a car. The combination of possessions and decor will come together and define who you are together in a way that makes your place together truly feel like home.
You may also disagree about what stays. She might be a little too obsessed with horses, or his pad may feel too much like a comic book store. You might fight about the color scheme, or how much lighting is appropriate. Maybe they have furniture or decor from their parents or exes that reminds you of them every time you see it. Sometimes building a home together is as much destruction as it is construction. Better to have that argument out and be done with it sooner rather than later.
The Deal Breaker
As I’ve said many times, you won’t get to really know someone until you live with them and meet them without pretense. Chances are you’ve read something here that makes you step back and say “I’m not dealing with that.” You may find yourself solving these issues handily anyway, but sometimes the biggest issues are the unknown unknowns. The red flags that no one warned you about. The hangup you didn’t know you had. The character flaw they tried so hard to conceal from you. Dating may have spared you, but living together increases your chances of finding it exponentially.
Truth be told, your chances of marrying a serial killer make winning the lottery look easy. The bulk of humanity has paired off happily with minimal qualms about flaws and idiosyncrasies, and chances are good that you too will have a felicitous marriage with the typical share of personal adjustments as well. Nevertheless, you may discover something unpredictable that tests your limits, even too far. If you don’t want to find that after you get married, living together first is the best way.