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Published on May 27, 2021

Is Living Together Before Marriage Good or Bad?

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Is Living Together Before Marriage Good or Bad?

In the last several decades, many couples have wondered about whether or not living together before marriage is a wise thing to do. This isn’t something that people had to think about generations ago because it was very uncommon. However, today, it is becoming more and more common and accepted. But there are a lot of things to consider before you move in together.

First, you both have to examine your intentions and be on the same page about it. In other words, are you living together to see if you are compatible in the same house? Are you living together because one or both of you are avoiding (or putting off) marriage? If so, why are you doing this?

Ideally, you have to have a long and honest conversation about why one or both of you want to live together without being married. Perhaps, one of you assumes that the other wants to get married, and they don’t. Or one has a certain timeline in order to get married, and the other doesn’t. Or one thinks this is just a serious relationship and hasn’t really thought about marriage.

Having this conversation is crucial because if you are not in sync with your intentions, this will cause problems down the road. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that both of you know that the end goal is marriage—not just any kind of marriage but, hopefully, one that is full of love and is happy and healthy.

Is Living Together Before Marriage Good or Bad?

Let’s jump into the pros and cons of living together before marriage.

The Pros

1. Sharing Finances

This could be one of the most popular reasons for living together before marriage. Think about it, most serious couples are practically living together anyway. They keep clothes and other personal items at one person’s residence, and they might be there more than they are at their own home. So, in that case, it would make sense to stop paying two different rents or mortgages, two different utility and cable bills, and so much more.

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While this is definitely a pro of living together, you have to make sure that you are wise with the money. It is very tempting to spend the extra money you save and not even know where you spent it. A better idea would be to save the money from the other household and invest it in your future together.

2. It’s Less Stressful When You Finally Get Married

Living with anyone can be stressful. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own parents, siblings, or children, everyone has the ability to get on your nerves when you live in the same space 24/7. It’s just a fact of life.

But when you are dating or in a serious romantic relationship, you have had a much shorter time to get to know someone’s habits. When you are first dating, you don’t see—or overlook—some of your partner’s annoying habits. You might even think it’s cute. But as time goes on, what you thought was alright just gets on your nerves sometimes.

So, imagine if you had never lived together before you get married, and then when you move in together, you had a crisis going on in your head. You might think, “this person drives me crazy because they never do the dishes!”

If you live together before marriage, you will go into it with your eyes wide open, and there will be a lot fewer surprises.

3. You Become Closer and Build a Stronger Bond

Intimacy is a very important thing in any relationship but more especially in marriages. But when I say “intimacy,” I don’t just mean physical/sexual or emotional intimacy. There are actually other different kinds of intimacy that are just as important, such as intellectual, spiritual, experiential, and volitional.

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Let’s talk about volitional intimacy. This kind is about the commitments that two people make with each other. For example, if you decide to buy a house, a car, or a dog together, that means you are making a commitment to each other (regardless of whether you are married or not). And moving in together represents that kind of intimacy.

When a couple has all of these types of intimacy in sync, that is when the relationship is strong. So, living together will help you “test” and see whether or not you can create and sustain these intimacies before you get married. And if so, it will strengthen your bond and make you more confident in getting married.

The Cons

1. Other People May Not Approve

Everyone has an opinion about everything. And most people love to let you know what it is, whether you ask for it or not. With that said, it can be very difficult to do something without your family or friends’ approval. Many times, religion gets in the way of your loved ones. There are many that look down on people who live together before marriage.

For example, many Catholics don’t approve of it. So, perhaps one or both of you grew up in a family that went to church all the time and followed the teachings of the church very closely. If you decide to stray from the spiritual guidelines, then your family could get very angry.

If both people’s family and friends are against moving in, well, that’s bad. However, even if one of you has a family that is not approving but the other one is, that can still cause a problem. The partner whose family is fine with it may not understand why the other person’s family isn’t.

In extreme circumstances, this can cause people to lose relationships with their family and/or friends. So, it’s something to seriously consider before you decide to move in together.

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2. Lack of Support Could Weaken Your Relationship

Living together with your partner is a big decision, whether you are getting married or not. Heck, living with anyone else other than yourself is not always easy. Sure, having a roommate can make you less lonely, but lots of challenges might come along with it too.

So, if you don’t have the support of your social system, it will probably impact your relationship—and not for the better. There may be stress and resentment that lurks in the air between the two of you. It may be spoken or unspoken, and it might not even have anything to do with the two of you specifically, but the outside forces can cause you to have conflict anyway.

Living with anyone can be a struggle sometimes in and of itself. If you’ve had roommates before, then you know what I’m talking about. So, without a good support system in place, you can put your relationship at risk because it could create new difficulties that you and your partner have not dealt with yet.

3. You Will Save Money, But It Could Weaken Your Bond

When you are single or simply live alone, you are in complete control of your finances. No one can tell you what you can or can’t spend your money on. But when you move in with your significant other, that can change.

Sure, you might still have separate bank accounts, but you will be sharing expenses. Decisions like how will the rent/mortgage be paid or who will pay for the groceries and utilities will need to be dealt with, and you may have very different opinions about how it should be done.

And then there’s the problem of outside and/or individual spending. Maybe one of you is a “spender” and one is a “saver.” The saver is going to be upset when the spender spends their money if they think it is irresponsible.

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For example, maybe one of you thinks buying a $200 outfit for the fun of it is a good idea, and the other thinks it’s a stupid decision. Or maybe one wants to spend $300 to make a gourmet meal, and the other thinks it’s a waste of money. These kinds of differences in how you spend money can cause a lot of problems between couples.

Does Living Together Before Marriage Helps With the Marriage Later On?

While most people want a definitive answer to this question, believe it or not, there is mixed research on the topic. Older studies from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s found that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce.[1] However, living together wasn’t as socially acceptable as it is today. More recent studies don’t show quite the same statistics, although the differences aren’t overly startling.

Other studies suggest that the divorce rate of people who live together is not necessarily linked to the actual “living together” part of the equation. Findings show that there are many other contributing factors to divorce other than cohabitation.[2]

For example, the age of cohabitation matters. In general, the older you are, the more likely it is that your marriage will endure. Other factors include personality characteristics such as the ability to commit. In other words, perhaps the people who live together before marriage either do not value serious, legal, or religious commitment as much as those who don’t live together.

With all of this said, at the end of the day, there really isn’t a glaringly obvious answer to whether or not living together before marriage is beneficial or not. It really depends on the people as individuals and the unique couple as a whole.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the choice of whether to move in together before marriage is ultimately between the two of you. As you can see, there is no clear right or wrong answer—it is just as unique of a decision as the couple itself.

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So, whatever you decide, just make sure that you and your partner have important conversations about it, and you are both are very clear about the pros and the cons. Then, just do your best and trust that everything will work out how it’s supposed to.

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Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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