(Closed) Living together, but unmarried–Confusion

posted 9 years ago in Relationships
Post # 3
7052 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

Have you sat down with your bf and discussed with him these feelings?

I think that’s first.

I don’t live with my Fiance.  For personal reasons. But we’ll move in about a month or two before the wedding though.

Imho, it’s only natural to want more of a committment level since you two share so much daily with each other.  You want to be more than a girlfriend.

Maybe a long engagement might be the trick?

I do think it steps the committment up quite a bit.  I know I feel we’re more “glued” to each other right now! 

Post # 4
132 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010


First of all, I think you phrased this question and state-of-being in an incredibly thoughtful and articulate way. I have felt that way myself on occasion before Fiance and I were engaged but couldn’t quite know how to put it into words … I am not at all worried about the future of your relationship if you and your SO are able to communicate like this!

In this day and age, really, you don’t “need” to be married at all and certainly not before you have kids.

One of the things that marriage meant to Fiance and I, we eventually decided, was that it was a formal institution that accurately reflected the way that we felt about one another. If one of us were to be very sick and have to go to the hospital, God forbid, we would each want the other to make decisions for us. We would want one another to have/be in charge of distributing our property if we passed away. On important holidays and life cycle events, we wanted to be together and we wanted everyone else to understand that we *belonged* together. For us, one of the good things about formally marrying was that it is a shorthand for some of these things that we felt our relationship already included.

You are not hurting each other at ALL by cohabitating, I would say (just my opinion, others on this board are strongly against it). Do what works for you! But what you seem to be noticing is that you yourself are changing, that as your relationship grows deeper, you may be moving toward a place – gradually – where a formal commitment makes sense for YOU.

So what I would say is, above all things, TALK to your SO! See if he feels the same way … he might just not have thought about it at all. My Fiance and just had this fundamental sense of belonging together and my urge for that to be reflected in marriage grew stronger as we grew older.

Don’t worry about your histories not involving each other – that’s totally normal. But all relationships change over time and you might be moving, gradually, toward a place where marriage makes sense for you – and the more conversations you have about what your relationship means to each of you, I think, the better. Nobody is standing over you with a stopwatch who is going to require you to get married at a certain point. See what makes sense for both of you! Maybe you will gradually move toward an agreement about a long, informal engagement, or a long, formal one … or maybe not! Only you can say 🙂

Post # 5
4464 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

You’re not alone.  Fiance and I lived together for over three years before we even got engaged.  And I was not in a rush to get married at all (that explains the 2+ year engagement).  If you’re happy in your relationship and the way things are going, don’t worry about it. 

Post # 6
299 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Oooh I am there with ya Leandra!  The boy and I have been living together for about 4 years, and just bought our first home together, AND got a puppy together!  But during the whole house buying process I let him know that I would have liked to have at least been engaged before this step.  I mean, no matter how committed you are, entering into a 30 year mortgage with someone who is in no way legally bound to you is very scary. But in the end, it was the right time to buy, and we would have still lived together in the apartment if not.  We get the question (especially from my mom) about when we are going to be getting engaged/married/prego all the time. And while I think it should all happen like yesterday, I am still in a happy, loyal relationship and have the cutest boy and pup around!

My advice is let him know your expectations and goals, let him know where you’re willing to bend and where you’re not when it comes to your committment.

Post # 7
59 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

My fiancé and I “argue” about this very thing.  In his mind we are committed, and no piece of paper is going to change that.  As far as he’s concerned, we’re married, and we’ve been married pretty much since we started dating (it took 3 years for us to start dating—long story).  He doesn’t see how marrying me is going to make any difference whatsoever in our relationship. 

That’s what he says . . . however, he absolutely hates it anytime I take my ring off.  He notices it immediately—it doesn’t matter if I’ve taken it off because I’m baking bread, cleaning, or whatever.  There is no justifiable reason for me to ever take it off!

I personally feel that marriage is the ultimate commitment.  I’m committed to him right now, but my ring is a symbol of the promise of our forever commitment to each other, and when we say “I do,” it will be a the fulfillment of that promise.  No, I don’t have any intention of leaving him now (or ever), so in that way, my commitment to him doesn’t change, and that is what is confusing for me.  On a non-emotional level, our finances, credit, and personal belongings are so intertwined at this point that it would be like a divorce if we were to break up now.  But I swear there is something deeper there once you’re married even if I can’t adequately describe it.

Ironically, I am a family law attorney.  I don’t have any statistics or proof, only my own observations.  But I notice that there is a very big difference between couples divorcing with kids versus couples who never married with kids.  I’ve seen a LOT of very ugly divorces, but for whatever reason, divorcing couples tend to be able to eventually put their differences aside and work together to parent their kids a lot easier than never married couples—there is just something extra there.  This is by no means true 100% of the time, and I’m sure there are plenty of other external factors, but I can’t help but think that the marriage vows have something to do with it.  In a weird way, they’re still committed to each other.  I can’t put it into words, but there is some intangible bond between divorcing couples, no matter how much they hate each other.  There really is that extra connection or emotion there. 

The long and short of it is that yes, I totally understand how your feel, but it is so hard to put it into words!  Even though I love living with him and can’t imagine not doing it, there’s still a little something missing.  There are things that are still “mine” and “his,” and I’m excited when everything will be “ours.”  🙂


Post # 8
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I know how you feel. I think about this often. He just bought a house and while we call it “our” house, his name is the name on the mortgage. Every large decision I make I feel like I have to step back and consider the consequences of a break up. I don’t feel as though my relationship is unstable, but without the marriage commitment, it’s not necessarily forever… if that makes sense. I know that I want it to be forever and we’ve talked but in the back of my mind, call it low self-esteem, call it being pragmatic, call it whatever you’d like, but I still feel as though a break up could happen at any time. It’s not because I’m worried about my relationship, but it’s just that it’s so much easier to walk away from a relationship than it is to walk away from a marriage. A relationship has less invested in it than a marriage does. And if 50% of marriages fail… How many relationships fail? There’s no husband and wife bond, there’s not legal bond. And that’s what’s important to me. I could care less about the rings and the dresses and the flowers and the cakes and showers and all of that. I just want to know that he wants to be with me forever. He says he does but I want to stand up in front of God and our family and friends and say our vows… but not any time soon. I’m still very very young. So… I don’t really have any advice, but I know what you’re feeling! He loves you and that’s very rare. Cherish your relationship, each day that you have with one another and enjoy being in love.

Post # 10
2765 posts
Sugar bee

I found that marriage didn’t really change how either of us felt about our relationship… but it made a huge difference in how other people viewed it!

We can sleep in the same room when we visited her parents, and it’s not controversial at all – in fact, it’s expected.

Other people now always invite give me a plus one when they invite me to anything, whereas sometimes in the past they might not have.

If there was a medical emergency, I’d be guaranteed to be able to stay in the room with my spouse.

Anyway that was the big difference for me!

Post # 11
210 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I’m not sure what state you live in, but I saw this book once and it has some great advice for non-married couples (esp. cohabitating couples).  It’s for folks who live in California, but the info about medical permission and property issues are important to check out. 


here’s another book that might be helpful, although i’ve never read it: 


have y’all ever considered doing something to express to your family and friends that you are more than bf/gf, that you are truely partners?  some folks do handfasting ceremonies.  some folks have committment ceremonies. 

Post # 12
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

I don’t think marriage is really about logic or that its benefits are romanticizations. You may feel just the same married as not (or you may feel different), but society will treat you differently. Marriage adds something unique to a relationship that cannot be obtained in any other way. It gives you something real and worth having—just not something particularly easy to define or that is the same for everyone. Don’t logicize yourself out of believing in marriage!

I think you have hit upon something very true: you are in a limbo zone where you are acting as married people do for the most part but without actually being married. You are discovering that you can’t have your cake and eat it too….you can’t feel like you are married without actually being married. It’s okay if you are not ready for marriage yet (or ever). But it sounds like when confronted with trying to have your cake and eat it too you are trying to convince yourself that the cake is not important to you or that there is no cake. The cake is not a lie. 🙂 

You’ve chosen to embark on a shared partnership life with your boyfriend that involves living together. My advice is to discuss with him where you see your relationship going. You need to have a specific plan. “We’ll decide in one year if we still want to live together” is a plan. “We will get engaged after two years or break up” is a plan. “We will live together forever and never get married” is a plan. “We’ll see how it goes and put off talking about it until we know more” is not. 

Cohabitation is a big deal, and indefinite cohabitation is dangerous. If you can’t decide on an endpoint, or even a reevaluation point, then frankly I would move out now and get your own place. Not break up—but just have your own space. These are huge issues and you are right to be concerned about them. I just want you to be able to make the decision that’s best for you, and that’s easier when you have agreed-upon control over the terms of your living situation.

Post # 13
6661 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

Pengy spoke about this a while back in one of her blog posts. She made a really good point, when your relationship is like a marriage and everyone’s happy, what’s the point of getting married?

For me, it was a couple things. Reassurance that he was in it for the long haul. Other peoples perception of our relationship played a huge role in it as well. I wanted other people to look at us as a unit instead of two separate individuals spending time together ‘for now’. Also, if you want the unity of being married, you need to make it official to do things like see each other in the hospital, etc.

When he moved in, I made it clear that we couldn’t just live together for an unspecified amount of time before getting engaged. I told him ahead of time that he’d better be prepared to propose within 6 months of living together if he decided to move in. That’s pretty much what happened and I am so happy.

Post # 14
401 posts
Helper bee

I am in the same position.  Other than the piece of paper, we are married.  I totally agree with other posters that as far as WE are concerned I don’t see how anything could change, however, society will, not just people but like you mentioned health care and such.  My Fiance is in a wheelchair so we have a lot of medical issues we deal with and I have MUCH better insurance but can’t get him covered because of that little piece of paper


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