At an Impasse about Living Together Before Engagement

posted 3 weeks ago in Wedding Related
Post # 2
Member
1049 posts
Bumble bee

I think you should stick to your standards. I’ll probably get crap for saying this, but you know what they say…”why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.” If he doesn’t even know about getting married at ALL, you really think he’ll ever propose if he already has an easy life living together and as you said “playing house?” No. Don’t lower your standards. Find a man (maybe this one, maybe not) who thinks you’re worth marrying and committing to. 

Post # 3
Member
1858 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2020

Your bigger problem is that he has hesitations about getting married at all. You’ve been together two years. It took a heated conversation for him to disclose that he thinks of what a great wife you’d make. But he still has reservations about marriage? That means he fantasizes about the warm, fuzzy parts of being married but doesn’t want to go through with it. I sometimes think about what it would be like to have a cute, funny baby like the ones you see in YouTube but I am 100% CFBC. I also think about how great it would be to have a pet goat to mow the lawn, a dog to walk, an otter because they are adorable. Do you know how many times I’ve asked my husband if we can get a pet skunk or raccoon? Thoughts don’t mean shit

I am a big proponent of living together before engagement. But it should be done when you have a firm understanding of by when you’ll get engaged, and the living together is more of a just in case preview rather than a trial run.

Be ready to walk no matter what you do. Living together isn’t going to magically change his mind. If anything, it will be the cause for more compromise, transition, and stress. It will turn off a marriage phobe man.

Don’t drag a man down the aisle or waste your time. Don’t let him treat you like a probationary employee. The impasse is not the living situation. It’s his stance on marriage itself

Post # 4
Member
1312 posts
Bumble bee

In a sense, the debate about living with someone before getting married is like the one about premarital sex.  Other than for the religious, there is no right or wrong answer, but the two camps are completely incompatible.

You have every right to stick to your standards, but my own personal opinion is that I think you should try living together before you get engaged.  I consider engagement as a commitment to get married, taking time to plan your wedding (those who go to the courthouse typically aren’t engaged for long).  By the time you get engaged, you should both be all in on marrying.  Like with sex, you don’t want to marry him only to resent his living style, not having been aware of it beforehand. 

But there is a good way to move in together: by doing it organically and with a natural progression.  There should be absolutely no pressure and moving in together should be something you both want to do as strongly as you both being ready and wanting to have sex, become exclusive, or even start dating.  Start by spending a night together (a sleepover) a week.  Then two.  Spend some entire weekends together (or at least the majority of the weekend if you have some other plans) so you can learn if your lifestyles match.  By the time you spend 5 nights a week together, moving in together seems more like a formality.

But there’s a pretty big problem beyond the living together.  He isn’t on the same page as far as marriage goes.  Living together is something best done when you know you have the same long term goals.  Currently, you don’t.  I would solve that part first.

Post # 6
Member
796 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

View original reply
@bitsyvonmuffling:  Good for you for making it clear where you stand. Over the years I have come to dislike the common practice of living together. I always thought that for women, the cons outweighed the pros. I saw women spend years living together with men only to have to come to the painful realization that the man was not going to marry them. And I saw a lot of men who just stayed in relationships that were comfortable but not special enough to turn into marriage. 

So I think the decision to live together should be approached with a great deal of thought. No one should enter into this arrangement without being clear what their own thoughts are about marriage. Look at what you have learned about his ideas about marriage just by laying your cards on the table. 

The pro-living together side always brings out the argument about how you only know a person by living with them and it is foolish to marry without living together first. But the irony is that couples that have lived together first do not have a lower rate of divorce than those that don’t live together first.

Some people say they would never become engaged without living with someone first. Ok, they are free to take that stand and make that move. But your stance is also perfectly reasonable. You don’t want to move in without being engaged first. Stick to that. Of course either one of you could learn something about the other through living together that you don’t like and then you or he might break the engagement. But if he wanted to break it, that would force him to actually make move a move and tell you where he stands. To me that is better than you just being strung along as so many women are.

His anger is not a good sign. He feels entitled to having you move in. I think you are very smart; don’t let him wear you down and don’t let other women wear you down. 

 

Post # 7
Member
1229 posts
Bumble bee

I read an article in the Atlantic a long time ago and it always stayed with me. Essentially it said the likelihood of being in a happy marriage vs an unhappy one and/or divorce had less to do with whether you chose to live together beforehand and more to do with the intentionality of those steps.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/378713/

Reading about your relationships that ended shortly after moving in, I did not see a lot of intentionality. It read as if the moves were primarily for convenience.

Being on the same page about why you are moving in and what expectations you have is important. Given he wants to use moving in to decide if he wants to get married at all, and you want to use it as a step towards marriage, I am going to suggest you stick to your position for now.

I don’t believe that you need to live together to decide whether or not to get engaged, and I also don’t think two years is a magic cut off date where someone has to be ready for marriage (I think WB skews this way based on regionality). That being said, not knowing if you want to get married ever is problematic for a person who knows they want to get married. 

If I were you I would wait until he decided he a) wanted to get married and b) wants to marry you before you move in. I would have an engagement timeframe at a minimum.

Personal anecdote:

My partner and I seriously started discussing marriage around a year and nine months. Our timeframe was to be engaged within a year. We put an offer in on a house at two years and four months (wild – committing to a mortgage pre living together!). We both felt we knew each other well enough and were moving towards marriage. We checked in before making an offer and confirmed our intentions were to be engaged before the end of October. Our house closed at two years and a half years of dating. If you look at my other threads we’re on track to be “officially” engaged within a month.

A huge piece for us was also my partner deciding if marriage was for him. He grew up in foster care as his parents could not provide care for him. His dad was very physically abusive towards his mum. His foster mum was married four times. His two models for marriage were very unhealthy. He also has a whole bunch of personal opinions about marriage as a social construct. Ultimately, getting married was a deal breaker for me, he was aware of that, and we talked through his concerns, my needs, and the level of healthy communication/desire to be in a long term committed relationship with me moved him towards agreeing to get married. 

Post # 8
Member
2005 posts
Buzzing bee

I think you should stick to your principles.  

For what it’s worth, I don’t think your previous relationships fell apart because you were living together – they fell apart because they weren’t going to work out anyway.  The living together might have sped things up, but if you can’t work through disagreements caused by sharing a house, your relationship does not have a long term future whatever you do

So stick to your decision not to move in until you are engaged.  This may end up being a deal-breaker, but if it is, it’s not the right relationship for you.  Any relationship that obliges you to act out of character or alter your principles is not a right relationship.

 

Post # 9
Member
1042 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 1996

Girl, stick to your guns.  As a matter of fact, since you say he has reservations about marriage, I personally would not move in with him until you are married.  

Once you were engaged, just because you had an engagement ring on your finger, that would not be a guarantee that he was actually going to follow through with marriage – especially in this case.

This man is NOT fully committed to you AT ALL.

 

Post # 10
Member
9 posts
Newbee

Personally, I think whether to cohabitate before engagement/marriage or not is less a question of right or wrong but more a question of personal comfort, level of intentionality and last but not least of values. Same with whether or not to have sex/kids before marriage. Life experiences and environment (family, friends and work environment) inform what kind of personal comfort, values and therefore standards a person has and what level of intentionality that person requires from another person to be comfortable to do certain things. That’s why people all are so different, because they have wildly different kinds of experiences and environments. Right and wrong are therefore relative and not absolutes in some cases.

Your own experiences tell you that living together has never worked out so far and have had negative impacts to date, finance and confidence-wise. You want a different result, therefore you now require a certain level of intentionality for you to feel comfortable to live with a significant other. Your new standard for living together is engagement. Until you are engaged you won’t entertain even the idea of moving in together. That is a firm statement. If your boyfriend honors you, he will continue dating you until he can firmly agree to an engagement while living apart. 

Your current boyfriend, however, doesn’t agree. He is neither ready to be engaged nor is he sure about wanting marriage in general at all. Also he feels that he can’t judge someone being marriage material without having lived with them. That’s not wrong, but it is his standard. Unfortunately, both your standards don’t dovetail for easy transition and more talk is required to figure out whose standards will be honored. If both of you are a little flexible, you could agree to a different standard that will adress both your levels of comfort. I’ve several suggestions:

1. Hold off talking about engagement and moving in until he can figure out whether or not he wants to be married to you. That means you get to keep your level of comfort by keeping your independence and your standard will be honored. That means you don’t have to fork out money moving in and out of apartments and can stay confident enough.

2. You will honor his standard and move in with him with the understanding that he’ll have to figure out until end of lease if he wants to marry you and if there is no yes to that questions, the relationship is done. Personally I wouldn’t do this for someone like your boyfriend, who is not sure about marriage in general. If a man told me that he wants marriage but just hasn’t seen enough of me to judge accordingly and only needs, say, a year of living together to figure out that question … that would be ok in my book. As long as he really does tell me the result after that year. No excuses.

3. Both of you will agree to get engaged with the understanding that you will move in together and hold off on planning a wedding for a set duration of, say, six months. If after that time he still likes living togther and has no reservation about getting married, then the planning will go ahead. Until then the engagment ring can be a cheap stand in. If not, the engagement is off and you’ll move out.

4. I’m out of ideas/suggestions; has someone else heard of a variation or different kind of agreement?

 

Honestly, there is no reason not to stick to your standards. I would only be a little more flexible if he is a really great person, marriage material and at the very least wants to get married in general.

Post # 11
Member
206 posts
Helper bee

He does not want to marry you. He has told you this! “He is not ready to be engaged and has reservations about getting married at all”

You don’t want to be a forever gf? Then listen to him when he says after two years he is not ready and not sure and move on. 

Post # 12
Member
7229 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2016

I think your proposed plan sounds like a good one, in theory, “perhaps we move in together in a few months as planned with the understanding that if he hasn’t figured it out by the end of our lease, I will walk.”

Except for the fact that, if things do not work out, then you are giving up your place and going into this already with the possibility of having to move twice within a matter of months. Why would you even consider doing that for someone who isn’t even sure he wants to be married (which you have clearly stated you want)?

A common thing I noticed with your previous times moving in with someone was how mushy boundaried and not really thought through they each seemed. 

Other than my parents’ divorce, I’ve had only ONE incident in which the stability of my living situation was disrupted by my relationship status and I vowed that I would never allow it to happen again. It’s absolutely wild to me that, for the last decade, you’ve basically been repeatedly and casually uprooting your home and life based on who you’re sleeping with.

I think the others’ points about your SO not knowing whether or not he even wants to get married are really really good. But I think you need to follow your mind and hold off on moving in with him because YOU need to take a different approach than you have in the past. You need to break the pattern of casually disrupting yourself and your home for any reason other than what YOU have clearly stated you wanted for your life.

Stop uprooting yourself and your life for situations that aren’t a clear and definite yes for you. That’s a pattern to leave behind in your 20s. If a person/relationship is not ready to be an absolute Yes for you, then they are a No and it’s not your job or responsibility to change that. Keep this home you’ve established for yourself and let your SO figure himself out. And let him do it in a way that is not at your expense, OP.

I would never disrupt my home or uproot myself for some guy to give me a wife trial run – as though he’s the one with the power of choice here. All studies about it show that men generally see more benefit in stable marriages and partnerships (to their health, to their finances and otherwise). Men are literally gaining years of life when we live with them. Meanwhile, women sleep worse, take on a disproportionate share of the household chores and, generally, find their quality of life negatively affected and we’re often still paying half for the “privilege” of it all. It’s time for women to understand our power and our value in partnerships and to act accordingly.

Post # 13
Member
797 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2021

Generally, I think that couples should try to live together in some capacity before getting engaged. (Which, if you’ve been spending every weekend at his place, you are already doing in a way). I think that living with someone teaches you things about that person that you may not have otherwise known. However, your comfort level is the most important thing, and if you’re not ready to live with your boyfriend, you shouldn’t! Your past experiences have made you want to wait for a stronger commitment before living together, and thats totally valid. I think your boyfriend should be more supportive of your convictions instead of pressuring you.

This might just be a fundamental compatibility issue. After two years, if your boyfriend just doesn’t want to get married at all, it probably isn’t wise to move in with him anyway, because it would be a fruitless endeavor. He should already know after two years if marriage is on the table with you, and it sounds like it’s not but he’s still stringing you along. Shouting at you that you’d be a “good wife” while in the middle of a fight is also a red flag. I think you should stick to your plan of not moving in with this guy. 

Post # 14
Member
1531 posts
Bumble bee

You should stick to whatever makes you feel the most comfortable, but he is not wrong in his feelings either and you shouldn’t imply that he is. I too wouldn’t get engaged to someone I hadn’t lived with – each to their own. It’s not his fault that you’ve had bad experiences with live-in relationships, and the problem in those relationships was either the guy or you, not the fact that you lived together. Despite all that, your biggest problem is that this guy doesn’t even seem to want to get married at all. I think living together can cement the possibility of marriage for couples, but I don’t think it can turn someone in favour of marriage in general, especially not at 2yrs together when he’s 32yrs old. It’s just (most likely) not going to happen. 

 

Post # 15
Member
7951 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

View original reply
@bitsyvonmuffling:  has reservations about getting married at all 

How important is marriage to you?

I don’t think he considers living together a prerequisite to marriage, he considers living together as the end game. Do you really want to spend more time with/move in with a man who has declared he may never want to get married at all? He’s 32, you’ve been together for more than two years and you still feel as if you are auditioning to be his wife…for a man who isn’t looking for a wife.

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