Is Living Together a Real Test Run for Marriage — or Just a Way to Put It Off?
By Carrie Sloan
What to Know Before You Co(habit)
Living together ends badly for half the people who do it. Will you beat the
stats? How to ensure success
There Are Two Kinds of Shacking Up (Make Sure You Choose Right!)
The happy kind: Prenuptial cohabitation is where you've already got a
ring and a wedding date, or at least the shared understanding that marriage —
to each other — is in your not-so-distant futures. There is no proof that
cohabiting during a finite period hurts your chances of living happily ever
after, and the benefits are obvious: half-price rent and cable, sex on demand,
and time to see whether he's evolved enough to put the seat down before you say
The kind that leads to splitsville: Long-term living together with no
clear idea of where the relationship is heading is the type to avoid. Why? You
move in on an impulse ("My lease is up; can I move in with you?"), and
it's comfy. But once your CDs, finances, and families become entangled,
breaking up can resemble a mini divorce. As a result, you may spend years in
relationship limbo with someone who isn't "The One." Some couples marry
out of guilt (aka, "We've been together so long, we might as well") —
only to divorce a short time later. The solution? Set a deadline (six months, a
year), get engaged — or get moving.
You Might Not Be on the Same Page
Surprise! Men and women view living together differently. While you might
see it as marriage with training wheels, he may find it merely convenient: the
comforts of having a "wife" with no intention of building a future.
"Typically, the guy doesn't want to commit," says David Popenoe,
founder of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. "He also
has less to lose by delaying," a nod to the ticktock of a biological clock.
If your five-year plan includes marriage and kids, discuss before you
Cohabitation Can Make You Fat
It turns out his sweet tooth can hurt you. A recent study by the University
of Newcastle upon Tyne showed that women tend to put on weight when moving in
with a boyfriend, while men become healthier. Due to a phenomenon researchers
call "dietary convergence," when your lives start to merge, so does
your choice of snack foods. Translation: He eats more veggies; you adopt his
Friday-night nacho habit. Rather than pack on the "cohabiting 10,"
agree to start a healthy eating and exercise plan together.
"Living Together Left Me $26,000 in Debt"
He wanted to be a pilot, so she financed his dream. But somehow their
wedding never took flight
By Amy Hennessey
As told to Carrie Sloan
In December of 1996, when I was 23, I met Chris online. He lived in
Honolulu, where I grew up, but I had just moved to Seattle for work, so we'd
talk on the phone for hours, laughing until our stomachs hurt. One night I
said, casually, "I had the best clam chowder tonight. If you ever come
visit, you should try it." "Amy, I work for an airline," he said.
He arrived on Valentine's Day.