Dating 101

Living Together Before Getting Married? It’s Not As Bad As You May Have Thought

couple in bed
Photo: Womanizer Toys/Unsplash

I was raised in a conservative family in which girls are always given lectures about the importance of saving themselves for the person they are going to marry someday. On top of that, I was made to believe that a woman loses something the moment she starts having sex, therefore she should not “give herself away” to anyone who isn’t her husband yet.

No wonder, I used to think of sex as something that’s bad and shameful. I basically equated it with sin. Things only changed when I entered the university, where I learned that there’s nothing wrong with sex. I even took a gender and sexuality class and found out that virginity was simply a social construct. In other words, I realized that while the grownups at home meant well when they told me to remain “pure” until after marriage, they were still guilty of perpetuating sexist beliefs.

Eventually, my views on relationships changed as well. I became more open to all sorts of setups, thinking there was no single best way to get involved with and become intimate with another person. I no longer associated cohabitation with a life lived in sin, too. In fact, I understood how beneficial it could be for certain people. I even tried it myself, and I have no regrets.

It is a great way to learn more about your significant other

Every person is complex, so it is impossible to learn everything about a particular person, no matter how close you try to be to them.

When you live with them under the same roof, however, you can have a better grasp of what kind of individual they are. You’ll be able familiar with their habits and quirks, both good and bad. It means you’ll also see some things that can annoy you. These things may be simple, but if they bring out the worst in either or both of you, you better address them while it is early.

Of course, it is also a great way to spot some major red flags, which you may not be able to see at all if you are not living with your significant other under the same roof.

This is very crucial, especially here in the Philippines, where courtship is still practiced by many. Although I don’t think courtship is 100% bad, I believe it can lead to misunderstanding because when a person only puts their best foot forward when pursuing someone, they may give the wrong impression about who they really are. And, by the time their true colors show, it may already be too late.

You can check if you actually make a great team

One of the biggest misconceptions some people have about unmarried couples living together is that they are just on it so they can have sex all the time. They do not realize, however, that although sex plays an important part in most romantic relationships, it is not everything. In fact, it is just one of the many things people do under the same roof. That’s because once you move in with your significant other, you will have no choice but also figure out how to deal with a long list of household chores and other responsibilities.

Even if you outsource most of the housework, you’ll still be left with some “invisible tasks” that are necessary to keep things in order, like making sure bills are paid on time and grocery supplies are replenished. Even the very act of looking for a service provider to take care of the chores at home and booking them is a task in itself.

In other words, you will never really run out of things to do, so you need to make sure you and your significant other make a great team, however, you may want to divide responsibilities.

You need to split the tasks very carefully, too, ensuring each party is okay with the division of labor because, when these responsibilities are distributed unfairly, it may lead to that person’s dissatisfaction in the relationship and even hostility.

It is one way of learning about how your significant views and handles money

One of the things a lot of couples fight over is money. Besides the lack of it, a person’s poor spending behavior despite making more than enough can still lead to problems, especially within a relationship. This is especially true when the other person suddenly has to cover some expenses at home even though they are technically not their responsibility.

Misunderstandings may also arise from debts and other financial obligations that weren’t made clear to one another before the marriage, including any type of financial support given to the person’s family.

It is for this very reason that couples need not only to talk about finances but also learn about each other’s behavior toward money before getting married. And, one way to do it is by living together.

When you live together, you can have a clearer picture of how your significant other manages their money and what they do to strike a balance between enjoying the now and saving for the future. You can also see how responsible they are when it comes to paying bills and other obligations. And yes, if there are red flags, you can see them right away as well, therefore allowing you to either address them or run away.

You can think of it as a trial period before you seal the deal

Okay, I am sure not a lot of people will like this idea, but, considering that we still don’t have divorce here in the Philippines and annulment is a lengthy and expensive process, I think it is very wise to live and have some kind of a trial period with your significant other first before marrying them.

Although there’s still no guarantee that it will lead to a great marriage, it will still allow you to have an idea of what you are getting yourself into before tying the knot. Does your significant other make you feel at ease or do they simply make your blood boil day and night? How about your self-esteem? Does this person make you feel appreciated and cherished or do they happen to be so condescending that you are almost always left with more insecurities because of some remarks or jokes they make? Do they maintain healthy boundaries or do they simply have no idea that they always break yours?

In short, what kind of life do you have with this person? And, are you okay with it? Is it something you’ll want for yourself in the years to come?

If you realize that you really cannot stand being around each other most of the time despite your feelings due to whatever reason, or perhaps you just do not make a great team together, then you can call it quits more easily. It will still hurt, but it will be easier than having your marriage annulled.

If there’s one thing my parent’s failed marriage has taught me, it’s this: Having feelings for each other is great, but that alone is not enough. Because no matter how much you love one another, it’s not going to work if it turns out that you really cannot stand each other most of the time. And, unfortunately, it’s hard to verify whether you can or cannot, especially if you haven’t tried living under the same roof yet.

So, yes, I wish my parents tried living together first before they got married. If they did, I think it would have been easier for them to figure out they were not meant for each other. They could have moved on with their own lives sooner.

Finally, I am very glad that my husband and I tried living together first before getting married because it allowed us to really get to know one another and even start building systems and routines that are now serving us well as we embrace married life. It helped us manage our expectations, too, and prepare ourselves well for whatever we have now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *