When I got pregnant with my son and moved back in with my mom, I told myself that I would never again move in with another man unless I was married to him. My logic, at the time, was simple. I was sick and tired of providing financially for men who would not offer me the same kind of benefits back. If I were going to contribute my finances to a household in which someone besides a blood relative lived, I better have some kind of commitment to do the same from them. And I couldn’t see why anyone would bother making such a commitment eventually, if I were already giving them all the benefits of making that commitment before they actually made it. In short, it was sort of a “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” mentality, only in my analogy, the milk was my financial contributions to the household, instead of sex.
I think this notion is still totally valid, if you’re inclined to date men who don’t make much or any money, while you make a fair amount. Or if you expect to contribute more to the household in certain areas than your partner (say in a traditional gender roles situation – why buy a wife who cooks and cleans when you’ve got a girlfriend who will do it). But in my current situation with Jeremy (who makes more than I ever did, even when I was employed full time by the Army, and is perfectly capable of taking care of himself without womanly assistance), it does not apply. So why am I still sticking to my guns and not moving in with him before the marriage?
There are a variety of reasons why I have chosen to remain in my mother’s home until marriage. For one, studies show that couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to get divorced. While I understand the reasons for this are complex and probably don’t apply to me and Jeremy, I can’t help but be a little … well, I guess you could say superstitious about it. Another reason is because in this modern world where we now accept that most of us aren’t going to be virgins when we marry, I’d like to retain something special about the transition from dating to marriage. If you’re living together before you’re married, you’re essentially living just as husband and wife would, and there really is no magic change that takes place when you have a ceremony and a party. There is no special transition. It’s like you’re throwing this party that costs thousands of dollars to mark … nothing. Nothing is changing. You’re just going to go home and live exactly like you were living before that. I don’t know, maybe it’s frivolous, but I think it’s kind of nice to save that last transition until marriage. At the very least.
But mainly, what it comes down to, for me, is this. In my mind, there are only two reasons to move in with someone: because you are confident that you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person (in which case, if you’re inclined to get married, why not just do it?), or because you are stupid. That’s right. I think it’s straight up stupid to move in with someone you think you might break up with one day. Why? Because moving sucks, and it sucks even more when you’re moving in the middle of a break up. Trust me, I’ve done it. Twice. Once while I was pregnant. It blows, dude. It blows dogs for quarters.
Seriously, why move in with someone if you don’t think the move is going to be permanent? I know some people believe that you have to live with someone to know if you can live with someone, but I just don’t see it that way. By the time you’ve been dating a year, two, chances are you know the basics of how they live, and the basics are what you need to see if you mesh with. People can’t hide the most hideous aspects of their living style for that long. I tried to hide that I’m a messy person from Jeremy in the beginning, but eventually the truth made its self known. Jeremy has revealed things to me about how he keeps track of finances, cleans, eats. All of the big stuff is out in the open. Could I discover, upon moving in with him, that he has some annoying habits I wasn’t able to see when I didn’t live with him 24-7? Yes. But it’s not going to be anything so big that it’s worth breaking up over.
Listen, if you’re with someone, and you think “he’s pretty cool, but if I find out he has a habit of blowing his nose at the dinner table, it’s over!” then you don’t like him enough to move in with him. Don’t do it! You should only move in with someone if you think “I know all the major details of how this person lives day to day, and I can live with them. I love this person so much, that even little irritating habits that I might not be able to see right now can be over looked.” And if you feel that way about someone, and you also believe in marriage, then you should just go ahead and marry them, because that’s true love.
I feel that way about Jeremy, so I’m just going to go ahead and marry him.
Note: This is not to say that marriage is the only legitimate way to have a committed relationship. Hey, if you’re not down with marriage, I totally respect that. I guess the point is the commitment. I think you should only move in with someone if you’re ready to make a permanent commitment. If, for you, marriage is part of your permanent commitment plan, you might as well get married when you’re ready to move in with someone. If marriage is not part of your permanent commitment plan, then make your commitment however best suits your needs as a couple.
And, of course, this is only my opinion. Hey, you do whatever you want. Want to move in with a dude you met last night? Go ahead! Far be it for me to pass judgement. I’m just trying to make a case for waiting until you are committed to move in with someone. But hey, if you don’t mind moving, and maybe you like dramatic break ups, maybe moving in with every boyfriend or girlfriend you ever have is a good move. What works for me may not be what works for you. That’s cool too.