THE MILLENNIAL FAIRY TALE

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I’ve recently done a little poll on who think’s couples should cohabitate before marriage or after. Nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.  Answers varied, many said :

“Before marriage honestly because you gotta make sure you wanna live with that person comfortably and be able to deal with how they are at home and not just how they are hanging out and on dates. Their morning routines, how they deal with bills etc. and how you accept all this. ”

“I say before marriage. I don’t necessarily want a blinding contract to do what I want. ”

“I think you should move in before. It would be aweful to move in with somebody and actually discover you don’t like to live with them. ”

” Before. Work out any issues and then get married.”

“You dont buy a car unless you’ve test driven it.”

“Couples should definitely move in before marriage. You’ll definitely find out what to expect after marriage through this. You can always learn from the “trial period” and cash in your ” Get out of jail” free card before it’s too late.”

” You should do a 30 day trial to see if you both are compatible.”

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.This sums up many of our generations beliefs. Combined with practical reasoning of ” One rent, one bill “, it makes sense financially. Like a business deal, you want to make sure your partner is just as financially able and that you can depend on him or her to be there to balance out the needs to steady both your lives. I have also gathered those answers who believe otherwise:

” If you truly love a person enough to want to get married, then the flaws in the way they live shouldn’t be much of a bother since everyone has flaws and marriage is about mutual support and working around each other’s flaws. ”

“I’m really old fashioned and I believe in marriage first. I’ve seen too many couples stay in the “living in” status for years.

“After. I don’t want to feel financially dependent or join in any of kind of lease/ agreement with anyone who I am not married to. I also believe that once you are married, that’s when you , as a couple learn more about each other’s living styles. I personally want moving in with my significant other to be a step that I anticipate while dating/ engagement. To simply put it, I don’t want to play house.”

” After. It keeps the marriage part special. Marriage is hard work. some people think the grass is always greener on the other side when they’re married for a decade. They forget what it takes to grow green grass. A lot of hard work, dedication and love. “

But love isn’t a business partnership: pushing you to figure out each other  before the big commitment… or a product that you have to test out to know if you truly love it enough to be committed to buy it… Love is not practical. It’s not mediocre, because it is anything but. It is the best thing that will happen to your life because where you place your heart is where your life will be. Love is about the commitment.  I am fairly surprised as to why most women do not want the process anymore. The anticipation the process gives off. The romance, then comes the engagement, then come the stress over the wedding,  then the apartment hunting and ofcourse, the children. This process, which has been used for years, has been present for generations because 90% of the time it worked. Yes there were glitches given that 10%, but that’s where the commitment plays its part. Through the good and bad, you’re in it.

“We were sleeping over at each other’s places all the time,” she said. “We liked to be together, so it was cheaper and more convenient. It was a quick decision but if it didn’t work out there was a quick exit.”

When researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken — even unconscious — agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.

Sliding into cohabitation wouldn’t be a problem if sliding out were as easy. But it isn’t. Too often, young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later. It’s like signing up for a credit card with 0 percent interest. At the end of 12 months when the interest goes up to 23 percent you feel stuck because your balance is too high to pay off. In fact, cohabitation can be exactly like that. In behavioral economics, it’s called consumer lock-in.

Cohabitation is here to stay, and there are things young adults can do to protect their relationships from the cohabitation effect. It’s important to discuss each person’s motivation and commitment level beforehand and, even better, to view cohabitation as an intentional step toward, rather than a convenient test for, marriage or partnership.

On a more personal note: Love doesn’t doubt. When you meet someone you know you want to be with for good, chained and all yet can’t seem to explained why, no questions asked, you just go with it. If you truly love someone, no trial needed, no warranty, 30 day return policy needed. Either you’re in or your out – defects and all. You have the rest of your lives to correct each other while loving every bit of it. It is upsetting to see that people in our generation want to find something solid such as test driving a relationship in order to believe in it rather than simply have a solid enough relationship to lean on no matter the circumstance. Ladies, no one in our generation dares for the process anymore. Strive for it. Strive for the fairy tale. Ask yourself what story you’d want to share with your children later on.

I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake. A mentor of mine used to say, “The best time to work on someone’s marriage is before he or she has one,” and in our era, that may mean before cohabitation.

Having said that, I am here for that leap of faith. I am here to take on the flaws that come with my significant other. I may not know them all due to the fact that I have chosen to move in together after marriage, but whatever those flaws are , I trust our relationship enough to fight off the misdemeanors. I want the thrill of the process. The romance building up to the engagement, the wedding plans and that stressful hunt for the first apartment and ofcourse the kids. I want to inhale every detail slowly without any rush to missing any steps. I believe in the process, I believe in flat tires along the way and fixing them together. I don’t have to test drive my boyfriend to know whether he is what I want for the rest of my life. I know it and I trust it.

*Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,text and personally . I love hearing them all!*

xo,JG