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Things You Need to Know Before Deciding to Live Together

Sondra Rochelle believes that every human being deserves the right to live up to his or her full potential.

Before couples decide that they want to live together, they should take the time to think about the benefits and caveats of doing so.

According to the US census, 12 million couples are living together outside of marriage. This attests to the fact that cohabitation has become a popular lifestyle for many couples.

However, this does not mean that cohabiting outside of marriage is the best choice for everybody who does it.

If you interview couples who have decided to live together, many will tell you that they do so because they don’t want to become entangled in the responsibilities, costs and potential legal liabilities of doing so, especially the issues that are involved in getting a divorce.

They point to the facts that more than half of the marriages in the U.S. fail and that many of the couples involved in them came from broken homes themselves. Therefore, they have negative attitudes about marrying.

You rarely hear these couples talk about the benefits of being married, but in truth there are quite a few.

Many view their preferred lifestyle as a substitute for marriage, but it is not. This is because when people marry they make a legal and emotional long term commitment to one another that exists for the purpose of binding them together.

It’s very easy to just walk away from a casual living together situation, but not so with a marriage. Even though people do end marriages, it is never as a casual walk away. It’s always for specific reasons that generally are negotiated in an attempt to resolve issues before a relationship can be ended.

In many cases it is the ease of dissolution that causes couples to avoid marrying, rather than the reasons they offer for living together.

A discussion about the good, bad and ugly of couples living together.

A discussion about the good, bad and ugly of couples living together.

Why People Choose Living Together and What Happens When They Do

There are many reasons why people choose to live together, the most popular being the one I just mentioned.

Here are some that represent real life situations I have personally seen.

Example 1

One partner feels love for the other, but the object of their affection will not commit to getting married. They first person assumes that if they can live together, eventually the person who is unable to commit will eventually do so.

Sometimes this happens, but more often than not, it doesn’t.

When the couple does eventually marry it rarely is because the non-committal partner has a change of heart.

It more likely is because

  • It is easier to tie the knot than to keep arguing about marriage,
  • the partners have aged or become ill and thus have fewer options,
  • has become more convenient or financially beneficial or
  • children have become involved and it is to their benefit for the couple to marry.

Whatever the reasons, the spouse who did not want to commit always carries some level of resentment because they feel that they have been coerced into marrying. In many cases, these feeling fester, damage the relationship and cause it to end.

Sometimes couples live together because one or the other of the partners is unable or unwilling to commit to getting married.

Sometimes couples live together because one or the other of the partners is unable or unwilling to commit to getting married.

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Example 2

A young couple is in love but each is struggling financially. They think that if they move in together, it will cost them less to live and allow them to save for the big wedding they have dreamed of having.

This may seem a good idea, and sometimes it works. However, once people start living together they see sides of each other that are not always the most pleasant.

  • If they are mature and are able to accept the flaws in each other, they usually will be able to follow through with their plans.
  • If not, the relationship will fall apart.

They may find, for example, that one is a spendthrift while the other is not, one is neat about his habits but the other is a slob, or one of them has an addiction that negatively affects the relationship.

While it is better to learn about these things prior to marrying, it also creates the risk of losing the entire relationship due to the ease of dissolution. Had the couple married, they would have been more likely to attempt to work on resolutions to their problems.

Example 3

A divorced older man becomes involved with a much younger woman. She is attractive and pleasant to be with, but he doesn’t love her. She, on the other hand, thinks it would be nice to move in with this man because it would save her a lot of money. She might even be able to talk him into marrying her. However, he has vowed never to marry again and does not want to have another person involved in dealing with his college aged children.

He asks her to move into his home and allows her to do some decorating so that she can feel comfortable. It is much easier to have a built in companion at his age than to start dating, so the expense of keeping this woman in his home is worthwhile to him.

As time passes, the woman becomes increasingly insistent about marriage, but he absolutely refuses. Now they have created a contentious living environment, but he can’t just “put her out” due to feelings of guilt, and she left with nowhere to go!

If this situation continues long enough, the woman has given this man the last best years of her life and has greatly limited any chances she may have for finding a new relationship that might end in marriage.

He on the other hand, must tolerate the conditions he has created, but allows them to continue because he feels he has no other choice.

In the end, living together has given each person some benefits but has also created a great deal of permanent discomfort.

I know one couple who continued on this way for more than 20 years. She finally had enough and left him. A year later, he married another woman!

Example 4

Two people who are in their early twenties, are very mature and are financially stable fall in love. They make it a point to spend a good deal of time together in order to know one another as well as possible.

Neither of them wants to have children, so they see no reason to marry. They know that they can live very well because they have similar values and interests and believe that they don’t need a piece of paper to legitimize their relationship.

They do, however, employ an attorney to create wills, powers of attorney, living wills and other documents that will protect them in the case of illness of disability.

They also find the smartest and most secure ways of doing things such as setting up bank accounts, investing and purchasing real estate.

This couple has every reason to believe that their relationship will succeed because they have done all they can to make sure they’ll be happy and secure together.

Chances are that they will do well and that the relationship will last a long time. This is because they took the time to think things through and make sure that they are compatible.

Their reasons for not marrying are good, but are not written in stone. They may decide down the road that they want to get married, but if they do, it is likely that the marriage will do well.

Things to Consider Before Living Together

These examples point out that it is the reasons for living together and the intelligent planning for doing so are what make this type of lifestyle work.

In truth, choosing to live together is just as big a commitment as choosing to marry. So, if your reasons for doing so are not sound, it just is not going to work out.

There is always going to be risk, no matter your choice. If you take your time, really get to know your partner, make sure you have similar values and tastes and are in full agreement about the lifestyle you are choosing, you can eliminate many problems.

Divorces are expensive and often nasty, but ending any long-term relationship can be the same. There has been more than one situation where one partner has sued another for palimony for ending a live-in relationship. The best example is the situation that occurred between Cling Eastwood and Sondra Locke.

This, those who think living together allows them to escape the problems that come with failed marriages need to reconsider their views.

This is especially true if children become involved. If you parent a child and your relationship ends, you still will have to pay child support until the child reaches adulthood.

The bottom line is that there are no guarantees in life. Both lifestyles can succeed or end and either can be wonderful or horrible.

This is what you need to understand about living together, and the same is true for getting married, so think carefully before you proceed.

Couples should consider the pros and cons of living together carefully.

Couples should consider the pros and cons of living together carefully.

© 2019 Sondra Rochelle


Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 19, 2019:

Interesting statistics. I always believed that divorced men marry faster because they are the ones who do the asking! Most women must wait to be asked. The bottom line seems to be that there aren't many differences between living together and marrying except for those related to legalities and security issues.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 19, 2019:


There are three basic reasons why couples get divorced.

1. They chose the WRONG mate. (They're too incompatible.)

2. A "deal breaker" was committed in one of their eyes.

3. They fell out of love/stopped wanting the same things.

If someone's spouse cheated or was abusive odds are they are NOT going to say: "If we had never lived together we'd still be together."

No one has ever listed living together as the reason they divorced.

With a divorce rate hovering near 50% we as a society are always interested in finding a "link" or something we hold onto where we can say people from divorced families are likely to get divorced, couples who had pre-marital sex are likely to get divorced, or couples who lived together are likely to get divorced. The reality is at some point you come to realize that MOST people fall into one if not all three of these categories. Which brings up back to the 3 reasons I stated.

According to an AARP survey taken several years ago it was revealed that (women) initiated 66% or 2/3rds of divorce filings in the U.S. It has been speculated the main difference between now and the 1960s and prior generations of marriage is (women) have better job and income opportunities than they did in the past.

The more options one has the less crap they will put up with! :)

Another survey revealed divorced men remarry sooner than divorced women. It is believed divorced (men) come to see the benefits of marriage and (women) after having had the "fairytale" come to appreciate their newfound freedom and independence.

As I mentioned in my earlier comment the biggest "perk' to being married is in the event the marriage ends in divorce or death.

One of the biggest complaints many (women) have about the failure of a long-term relationship whether {living together or not} is "having nothing to show for it" when it's all over. Commitment = Security.

With marriage they are more likely to be "entitled" to a division of property/assets, social security/pension, or life insurance benefits.

Aside from failure/death perks living together feels just like marriage.

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 19, 2019:

Take a look at the video where the narrator discusses statistics that show how many marriages fail for couples that lived together first!

You make many good points here, as usual, but to me the most important one is the final one.

You are right about commitment, but as I wrote in another article, commitment generally only lasts as long as things are going well in many cases.

Each person must make his own choices, but as a traditionalist I personally believe that marriage provides the parameters that help couples to stay together. Granted,, this doesn't always work, but then, nothing always works!

dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 18, 2019:

"It’s very easy to just walk away from a casual living together situation, but not so with a marriage." - That's true.

However it's easy to walk away from any CASUAL relationship whether one lives with someone or not. Granted breaking a lease however can be very experience and might land one in civil court.

Truth be told many couples who move in together never ever discussed the (possibility) of getting married to begin with!

What usually happens is while they are in the "infatuation phase" of a new relationship one of them ends up spending most nights at the other person's place or they take turns going back and forth to the point where they are together most nights.

One day someone says: "This is crazy! We're always together and yet we're paying two sets of rent, utility bills, and living out of overnight bags." The next thing you know one person moves in with the other or they find a new neutral place to live together other guise that it will save money. It was too early to even discuss marriage. The couple was just living in "the now'.

According to statistics in the U.S. 2.3 million weddings take place each year and approximately 52% of those couples lived together.

With regard to Eastwood and Locke you also have to consider Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell who have lived together for over 30 years. Lots of marriages don't last that long!

When Kim Kardashian married Kris Humphries she filed for divorce after only 72 days of marriage. Are we to believe because they got married they were more committed than Hawn and Russell?

Commitment is (behavior) and not a marital status. There are lots of married couples who cheat on each other left and right or are in abusive marriages. Whether you're married or living together the only thing that really matters is how well you get along with your mate.

The only real benefit of being married is the possibility of being entitled to (benefits) in the event the marriage FAILS or your spouse DIES! In other words there is an upside to a negative outcome.

However even with the high divorce rates most divorced people tend to remarry at some point in their life. It's not uncommon for people to get married two or more times in a life time.

The passage of marriage equality laws has made it possible for gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.

On some level everyone wants a shot at the fairytale sooner or later. They want the "wedding day" & "honeymoon" experience.

Warren Beatty was 52 when he married Annette Benning.

Hugh Hefner was 86 when he married 26 year old Crystal Harris.

George Clooney was 53 when he married Amal

Clint Eastwood was 65 when he married Dina Marie Ruiz (several years after his breakup with Locke).

There are two basic reasons why men do not propose to women.

1. Timing (Marriage is simply not a priority for him.)

2. You are NOT "the one".

According to by age 44 over 85% of men have married at least once and that was before marriage equality laws.

Odds are those numbers going to go up!

Marriage is here to stay!

Most people are going to do it at least once.

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