Hitched 2.0: 5 Bonuses Of Living Together Before Marriage

My now fiancé and I moved in together a little over two years ago, seven months before we got engaged. We had been together just about three years at the time, but that didn’t mean I was sold on the idea of cohabiting. In fact, I had many reservations, and always thought I’d wait until getting engaged to live with a boyfriend. But after much discussion and weighing of pros and cons, we decided to get a place together when we moved from New York to Chicago, and I’ve never looked back. The past two years living with Andy have been an amazing experience and, though I understand others’ decisions to wait to live with someone until engagement or marriage, I’m now so happy I didn’t. Here are a few reasons why:

1. You have time to adapt to one life change before throwing in another.

Honestly, living with Andy wasn’t nearly as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be. Overall, it was actually a pretty seamless transition. (Perhaps because we already lived across the street from each other in New York, or because we gradually made the change by crashing with my sister and brother-in-law for two months when we got to Chicago, or maybe because we had about 10 times the amount of space in Chicago that we had in NYC…) That said, we still did have to adapt to this new aspect of our relationship, and it was nice to be able to do so without also being swamped with wedding plans, or getting used to life as a married couple.

2. You’ll know what to put on your wedding registry when the time comes.

When we moved in together, we pooled our (small amount of) belongings to put together a hodge-podge of a shared apartment. And over time, in an attempt to avoid living like college students, we acquired lots of grown-up things (like furniture and artwork). And also over time, we realized what we like and what we don’t; what works for us and what doesn’t; and what we have and what we need (or want). So when it came time to register for our wedding gifts, we had a pretty solid sense of what we’d like to include, making it far less overwhelming a process.

3. You can more easily make time for wedding planning.

I’ve made it more than known that wedding planning can be a bitch. There is a seemingly endless amount of tasks to handle, and being able to squeeze some of those things in during random bits of free time (think: taking a look at a videographer’s samples before work, or asking for a quick answer to the coordinator’s email while making dinner) is a huge help.

4. You can work out any financial kinks before you’re legally linked.

Whether you plan to fully merge finances or not, you’ll still inevitably have to make tons of joint money-related decisions once you’re married. Money is a beast of a topic in marriages (from what I hear), and is a key factor in everything from buying a home and feeding kids to planning trips and investing in furniture. For us, the time we’ve had living together before marriage has been an amazing opportunity to discuss finances together and learn, hands-on, what it’s like to share fiscal responsibility. It started with a receipt drawer, where we’d put receipts for any and all apartment expenses, only to spend hours adding up and evening out the costs between us every couple months (it was as chaotic and tedious as it sounds), and evolved to us jointly owning a car and a condo. And now, I feel beyond confident that when we’re legally married and the responsibilities continue to mount, we’ll be prepared.

5. You get to enjoy that many more simple moments together.

Before Andy and I actually shared a home, we spent tons of time together. We knew what it was like to have sleepovers, share meals, and even go grocery shopping as a pair. But what we didn’t get to maximize were all those simple moments that happen when you don’t have time to go out, or even hang out, together. The quick kisses when you pass each other on the way in and out of the house; the impromptu karaoke sessions when you’re both rushing to get ready for work; the little laughs you share right before falling asleep after you both get home from separate nights out. If we hadn’t lived together these past two years, we would’ve missed out on two years of those moments—ones I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Hitched, our weekly column about getting married, is back! Follow Emma Sarran on Twitter.