In the spirit of Valentines Day, I thought I would write about the idea of living together before getting married. Before you tie the knot and spend $20,000 to $40,000 on a wedding, why not “test drive” living together and see if it will work BEFORE you plunk down $40,000 for that one day of happiness? I know, I know. Very romantic of me. I am pragmatic, what can I say.
The latest estimates from Statistics Canada in 2008 suggest that 38 per cent of married couples in Canada will divorce by their 30th wedding anniversary (divorce beyond that point is rare). The percentages range from 22 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to 48 per cent in Quebec. In the U.S., the figure is 44 per cent.
In my family studies class that I took back in university, I read that people who live common law have a higher rate of divorce. The argument for this is that if you live common law and you and your partner fight about the same things over and over, some people believe that when they get married, these problems will magically disappear. Hence couples divorce when they realize that those problems that weren't fixable didn't go away with the $40,000 celebration.
We test drive cars before we buy them, we try on clothes before we buy them, now why wouldn't we try out living together before we get married?
Some people have strong feelings against cohabitation. For example, for religious reasons it is not accepted for some to live together before marriage. Some may argue that people are in their prime in their 20's and should not be tied down and codependent on another.
On the other hand, with rent and mortgages being so expensive and unaffordable nowadays, it can be difficult to pay for this with just one income. Often you would need another person contributing to the rent or mortgage in order to not have to pay more than 32% of your monthly pay. Also, with the recession going down, many people are finding that they just simply cannot afford to live or retire by themselves. Spending so much money on a wedding and paying for divorce proceedings can be… put simply, costly.
A middle ground to this is to move in together upon engagement- before all the wedding spending. That way, if the relationship falls apart, you won't have to deal with losing that money on the one day. Every relationship is different though. What may work for one relationship may not work for another.
Mr. youngandthrifty and I have been talking about moving in together. We're not planning to get hitched until a few more years down the road (maybe 1-2?), but do want to ‘test it out' before we say “I do”. I have mild mixed feelings about moving in together before we get married, and would PREFER to be like Beyonce, and tell him “if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”. We have been dating for almost five years and have gone traveling together (TIP: travel together to see if your relationship works– it's a really good predictor! When you're traveling, you're jet-lagged, hungry, cranky, constipated (sorry to mention this, but it's true), have different traveling styles.. if your relationship can tough that out, then you're pretty much good to go!) and know each other pretty much inside out. We are thinking of buying a place together (let's face it, I can't afford anything non-closet sized with my lone-income). In a later post, I'll talk more about some important things you need to think about before living together…property and assets-wise.
What do you think? Do you think living together is a good idea before the wedding? Why? Do you think there is a ‘middle ground' to this? Are you planning to wait or are you a happy ‘cohabitator'?