Popular culture implies that after a couple has dated for a certain amount of time, the next logical step in a committed relationship is moving in together. The reason for this? People apparently think compatability cannot be tested without the actual experience of cohabitation. The truth is that a trial run marriage is not the answer for couples who are considering exclusivity.
In my experience as a Christian relationship coach, those who chose to live together experienced a decline in emotional intimacy instead of a strengthened bond. A new study by World magazine measured feelings of commitment and intimacy for unmarried couples who live together, and found they never achieved the level of closeness married couples enjoy.
Essentially, living together sets most couples up for probable failure, because at that point, at least one person in the relationship is unsure if it should lead to marriage. Instead of addressing that reservation with openness and honesty, the uncertain person agrees to a trial arrangement. As seen in the study, 52 percent of men are not "almost certain" their relationship will last. More than half had reservations about the longevity of the relationship.
Marriage confirms the bonding of a man and woman by specifying and guarding certain expectations and responsibilities. In cohabitation, there is mutual exploitation within the possibility of potential flight; this does not promote a strong or lasting relationship. In marriage, spouses have a higher incentive to learn what pleases each other and they become good at it; they expect to stay together.
Merely living together is an open question mark because the future is undecided. Cohabitation by its very nature does not promote the same deep connection of mutual trust and emotional vulnerability. Intimacy that is reserved for marriage is cheapened by this experience and cannot be replicated. Keep reading...
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