I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not super religious. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I actually went to an all-girls Catholic high school, but if anything, that just made me less inclined to follow their rules. Moving in together before marriage does work for some people, but for most (and all examples I know of), it can really hurt the relationship, no matter how compatible they are.
There’s no incentive for him to propose.
I don’t view marriage as a license to start having babies. I hope to be married for at least two years before children even come up in conversation. Marriage is a decision about the person you’re choosing to share your whole life with. If you’re living with someone before you’re married, you’re already doing that. So, what incentive is there to get married unless you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant very soon? I literally can’t think of anything, except taxes, and that’s only because I’m an accountant who is hard-wired to think about such things. The fact is, if you’re already cohabitating, and one of you is dragging their feet on the marriage concept, it’s going to cause arguments. Trust me, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. It affects everything from mortgage payments to picking out a new sectional, and in their case, it was only resolved with an accidental pregnancy. Now there’s a bump in ALL of her wedding pictures. Not exactly what you dream about when you were young.
There’s no incentive to not break up over living disagreements.
Breaking up over someone’s inability to put the coffee creamer back in the fridge or the annoying way that they chew ice or that awful painting of a cliché quote they hung in the entryway, doesn’t seem insane, unless of course you’ve committed 50% of your net worth to that person. Living with another human being is hard. Think back to how much you bickered with your siblings or fought with your parents growing up. Think about how your college roommates got on your nerves sometimes, and how honestly the only reason you didn’t fight with them more, was because you were either drunk or hungover 75% of the time, if not more, (especially senior year). The fact is, spending that much time with another human will annoy you. Being married is an incentive to work on it, and see the bigger picture of your lives together, which is pretty great.
There are awkward questions from relatives.
I’m from California, definitely the most perceived liberal state in this country, and I would make myself sick if I had to bring home a guy I was living with, but not married to. It’s been done before in my family, and it was definitely awkward. It just makes people feel like certain topics are off-limits, or they feel unsure whether they should acknowledge your living arrangement because they don’t know your exact state of mind on the issue. Are you in love? Was this just a convenient arrangement? Do you think you’ll get married someday? If so, then why did you just move-in instead of getting married? Questions at family gatherings have horrified me since I began my job search senior year in college, and they only get worse. So like, just wait until you’re planning a wedding and that’s all you want to talk about. Those questions will suddenly feel like an invitation to talk about yourself rather than a deposition.
It may hurt your parents.
Given, my parents are an anomaly. They met in high school and only dated each other for 10 years until they got married. They’ve always had the moral high ground on me. I used to think that if I moved in with a boyfriend they’d fight me on it. Actually, they’re really understanding, they know their story is uncommon. However, they would be so uncomfortable if I moved-in with a boyfriend before I was married. They’re both very traditional, my dad has scared every boy I’ve ever brought home, and they like the formality of dating. They’ve both supported me in every way for 20+ years, so even if I wanted to move in with a guy, it wouldn’t be worth upsetting one of the simplest plans they dreamed up for me, waiting until marriage. Which leads to my next point.
There’s nothing you’re saving for marriage.
Again, I’m not trying to get religious on you. I’ve fallen in love, on more than one occasion. I’ve also dated boys I knew I would never love. Any adult has the ability to make their own choices, and probably has with more than one person. This day in age, who knows how many people you’ll be with before you find someone you’re willing to commit the rest of your life to. When I get married, I know I won’t be able to listen to “Remember When” by Alan Jackson and feel like it even remotely describes my life, and that’s okay. I think it’s better for my future marriage that I’m taking the time to figure out what I want. But when I do make that commitment, I’ll be able to look forward to something that I’ve never done with any other guy I’ve dated, and that’s living with them. Living with a boyfriend/girlfriend is the virginity or “first” of our generation. Because, to be blunt, many of us had our “first” in an awkward encounter that predated college, any may or may not had a lasting impact. Living with your partner is intimate, it’s special, and sharing every single day is something I’m saving for my future husband.
While I know that if a couple truly shares the same timeline for their lives, and has a family that embraces cohabitating, I’m sure they’ll be very happy. And I truly hope they will be. But personally, I just want to save a romantic “first”, for marriage, and I can’t wait for that.