Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

Why You Shouldn’t Live Together Before Marriage

Although I’m aware calling my knowledge “expertise” may not be applicable, the advice I give is derived from a combination of experience, education, and observation that helps me determine probabilities. For instance, if a woman asks whether she should stay with a man who has been cheating on her but swears he’s going to be faithful now, while it is possible that he may be telling the truth, experience, education, and observation has shown me that in most situations like this, the guy eventually reverts to his old ways. My advice just mirrors what I think is the most likely outcome.

I’m bringing this all up because there are dozens of different dating/relationship questions, theories, and concerns where there are no real right answers. While one side may seem more likely to occur, you can easily make the argument that the other side is in fact the right answer. Today’s topic—Why I believe people should wait until marriage before living together—is a perfect example.

You can just as easily craft a convincing pro pre-marriage cohabitation argument. If in a committed, monogamous, adult relationship, it may make more practical sense to live together. First is the obvious. Both parties will have the opportunity to save money. And, with your combined incomes, you may be able to afford a larger place and nicer things. Also, if you do plan on eventually getting married to each other, the pre-marriage cohabitation period can be a bit of a test run to see how things might be in the future. Plus, there are certain things you just won’t know about someone unless you live with them, and it’s better to learn “secrets” like “This bastard brushes his teeth like three times a week!” and “Damn, ever since she moved in, my bathroom smells like whiting.”

But, the convincing co-habitation argument fails to consider one of the die hard truths about relationships: most relationships end. When you’re not living together and the relationship ends, aside from deleting your own boo from your Facebook page, there’s really nothing else you have to do. But, cohabitation just makes things messier, more drawn out. Who stays and who moves out? Who keeps what furniture? Since you were splitting bills before, how is that going to be handled now? Also, as I learned, a post-cohabitation break-up ensures that you will have to continue seeing and interacting with each other for at least a few weeks while you figure everything out. When this happens, you’re not able to make the type of clean break necessary in order for a relationship to truly end, and this has a tendency to put you in a “are we or aren’t we?” limbo that ends up making things even worse.

Most importantly, with pre-marriage cohabitation, you’re committing yourself to husbandly and wifely duties without any type of husbandly and wifely commitment. Yes, this can happen even without living together, but when you are sharing the same space, that dynamic basically just creates itself. And, while doing this may seem cool in theory, ultimately one party (or both parties) will feel taken advantage of, and/or tire of “playing” married couple without actually being a married couple, and this can put another level of unnecessary strain on the relationship.

Read more at Madame Noire

Filed Under: ,
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Stanley

    OK I got it now…

  • James

    Damn…I thought it was gonna be deeper…this just states the obvious

  • Iceprincess2

    Wise words champy. How were your holidays? How’s ma dukes? She doing any better?

  • Negro Libre

    I am for cohabitation, exactly for the reason that it is likely to prevent marriage.

    As for all the things that can go wrong during cohabitation or a break-up, I think they pale in comparison to what can go wrong in a divorce. Also, pressure bursts pipes, and you’re both under a lot of pressure when you’re cohabitating. If you can’t deal with the pressure that comes from being roommates, I don’t see how you’re going to be able to cope with the pressure of being husband and wife.

    • felonyxmelanie

      This! ^

      I don’t believe it’s such a cut and dry situation. Different strokes for different folks.

    • Caballeroso

      I approve this message.

    • Cheekie

      “As for all the things that can go wrong during cohabitation or a break-up, I think they pale in comparison to what can go wrong in a divorce.”

      RIGHT. If we’re gonna use “relationships end and will be messier once living together” how about marriages end and will be even MESSIER because you’ll be sharing more than living quarters, you’ll be legally sharing finances/assets.

    • DreadedSouth

      Where can I sign up for your newsletter?

  • Chris L. Terry

    I call nonsense.
    Saying “don’t live together because may very well break up at some unnamed point in the future” is like saying “don’t get pets because you’ll be sad when they die” or “don’t go outside during the day because it’ll get dark after a few hours.”
    Also, isn’t living together kind of LIKE the commitment of marriage? If you’re both on the lease, there are even legal ramifications if you screw it up, just like if you’re married.

    • Ima

      I like the analogies.

  • Caballeroso

    Given the die hard relationship truth mentioned: that most relationships end, and given today’s reality of “til divorce do us part”, rationally it becomes better to live together before making a leap from “apart-and-dating” to “jumping in to sink or swim”. Figure out better who you’re with before you sign a life-long contract til death do you part.

    Having cohabitated for over 2 years before ultimately parting ways, I can attest that, yes, there are benefits of commitment without the commitment. I don’t see that as a bad thing since in my situation it worked both ways. She cooked, cleaned, and paid for utilities. I provided food, lodging, and insurance. Similiar to the experiences of many married couples, we even had sex a couple times.

    Once I realized she was doing drugs, cheating, and worst of all lying, it became prudent for us to part company. No lawyers required. No government involvement or paperwork. And best of all, spousal support to a recreational cocaine user was averted. We both left with what we came with and what we acquired individually while together. What we acquired together while together was divided by mutual consent. Mine was an amicable parting so that last part may not work for many which is why it’s not an arrangement to be entered into hap-hazzardly, but then again, neither is marriage.

    With that experience I learned the arts of compromise, choosing my battles wisely, diplomacy, self-lessness, and respect. I also learned that people are talented at hiding who they are, but when required to do it 24/7, the facade being put up will develop cracks that allow you to see beyond the front and know exactly what you’ve got – if you’re fortunate, you’ll see it prior to marriage.

    As far as the point about one party feeling taken advantage of, it is up to each of us in ALL interpersonal interactions to ensure that it’s not one-sided. It is an on-going maintenance item that cannot be forsaken in cohabitation or any other relationship dynamic. The other die-hard truth about relationships is that we don’t win them all, but such is life- accept it, learn, grow, and do better.

    When I consider the weeks of awkward post-breakup interaction compared to the years of post-maritial financial ruin due to community property laws and co-mingling of credit, a delayed and awkward break is a small price to pay.

    • Crystal Marie

      Wow. Doing drugs? Glad you found out before you tied the knot.

  • trav tha matic

    shit is working out well for me dame,,,ow ow ow yo yo yo

  • msdebbs

    I’m not really big on cohabitation unless I know marriage is on the way or in the works. Personally I feel that (for me at least) there should a serious level of commitment before I give up my freedom of living alone and most importantly half of my shoe closet. And Champ I completely agree couples should have a “just in case we break up” plan to avoid the extra headache that comes with splitting up

  • Nutty Jay

    Okay… I see

  • iNot

    “Most importantly, with pre-marriage cohabitation, you’re committing yourself to husbandly and wifely duties without any type of husbandly and wifely commitment.”

    This right here is why iWon’t be cohabitating. It’s happened with all of my friends who lived with their bf for years. In all cases except one they literally moved out or kicked him out and had to live apart for some time before marriage would even happen. I understand wanting to know what you’re getting into before marriage, but living together doesn’t automatically tell you everything about a person.

More Like This