Living with a partner before marriage was something that was never on the table for me. Sticking to my good Catholic roots, I wanted a ring on my finger and an ‘I do’ before snugging in under one roof with my potential husband.
Then I met him.
He was charming, he was lovely and he was trustworthy. He was also adamant about living together before giving me my ‘say yes to the dress’ moment. I struggled with the idea of tossing my life vision out the window and compromising on my (and my famiy’s) beliefs. However, as we approach almost six months of married life – I’m so happy we lived together first.
Many couples seem to agree that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Coming out of your post-wedding bliss you are quickly thrown into a reality of combined finances, sharing personal space and learning each others good – or bad – habits around the clock. Marriage is all about compromise and as much as you try to sort out the kinks of significant compromises before getting hitched, they will constantly be thrown at you in all directions.
How do we split the mortgage?
Who pays the utilities?
How do we decide on a fair and managed spending budget?
How do we split time between our families?
How much time do we spend with friends?
Who unloads the dishwasher?
The list goes on and on.
In shacking up with my husband while he was still my (serious) boyfriend we were able to settle out many of those kinks before tying the knot. And let me tell you – that year was hard. Between living together for the first time, adopting our first puppy, planning our wedding, dealing with family illnesses, and purchasing our first home, I’m surprised we made it to the alter still sane. We learned so much about each other and we able to sort out many of the unknowns many couples face in their first year of marriage.
We rented for a year to sort out our needs and wants: emotionally, financially and socially.
To even my surprise, we learned I’m a neat freak – so my husband has learned that leaving half-full cans of pop on the table, which the dog loves to knock over, is a big no-no.
We learned we love low key nights in, and like to dedicate certain days of the week towards time spent with family and friends.
We learned how to grocery shop and manage our budget.
We learned to give each other personal space to do the things we love.
We learned how to coexist and love each other for our quirks rather than resent them.
We learned that we for sure, most definitely, without a doubt want to spend the rest of our lives together.
I’m not saying this isn’t possible to figure out without living together first. What I am saying however is my change of mind and acceptance to a different approach to marriage really worked in our favour.
We’ve been being married for a little over 5 months now and are a little over 4 months pregnant. I can’t begin to imagine jumping into a pregnancy so quickly after marriage if we hadn’t experienced our unwed year of living together. Especially as we face the ups and downs of genetic testing. I’m not sure we could handle our current situation quite so well. Instead, our relationship is the strongest its ever been. The love I have for my husband has multipled in ways I could have never imagined. Paying a mortgage, blanacing work and family life, keeping house – they’re all part of a routine we’ve already figured out. Now, we just manage the unexpected things life is throws at us.
Although I’m sure my parents would have preferred we did things the old fashioned way, and although I’ll want to ensure my children understand the old school type of respect to put into a relationship – I’m able to now appreciate the modern relationship.
At the end of the day a relationship is about understanding your partner’s point of view and making healthy compromises to make the relationship work. My husband understood and appreciated my perspective, while I understood and appreciated his. The combination of the two made for a comfortable experience where we both learned valuable things about ourselves and each other. I wouldn’t trade that unwed year for the world and truly believe it led to the success of our first year of marriage (thus far).
Did you live with your partner before getting married? Are you against it? Join in on the conversation!