I voted that “it doesn’t matter”, but, I actually think living together/not living together CAN matter, depending on the couple.
For me and my Fiance, it didn’t matter. I already owned my own place when he and I met, and he already had a year’s lease, which he renewed only 6 months into us dating (I NEVER would live with a guy afteronly 6 months of dating). So we were both set living apart until the engagement, and after our engagement we planned to continue living apart until the wedding.
There are two other reasons for living apart—one, both of our families are on the conservative side, and two….I really, really loved my single life and wanted to mourn it properly. What I mean is that I am a very independent girl. I’ve spent my whole adult life doing what I want to do–traveling solo, cultivating my friendships, dating around, “find myself” hehe, fall in and out of love, eating weird things, decorating the house any way I want, etc. I LOVED my single 20’s and really planned to cherish my last few months as a totally independent woman (I say this, because I’ve been learning that a good relationship means you aren’t totally independent any more, you have to learn to put the other person first, at least 50% of the time).
On the other hand, Fiance and I spent enough time at each other’s houses (both days and nights) that I already knew his quirky habits and he knew mine.
But then he got a suprise awesome job offer halfway across the country and we decided we should do this kind of thing now while we don’t have kids, so 4 months before the wedding we both quit our old jobs, moved cross country, found new jobs, have been through stressfull moving times together (subleases falling through, moving 2 weekends in a row, Uhaul nightmares, etc), we ARE living together now (2 months now) and it’s been totally smooth sailing for us. We have had 0 fights about little things like cleaning and no suprises from living together.
So, for us….living apart until marriage would have been pretty much exactly the same—smooth sailing I think.
I guess one of the main reasons I encourage my girlfriends to live apart until at least they are engaged with a date (and practiced this rule myself), is because I’ve had too many girlfriends who had live-in boyfriends who weren’t really happy but kept living together (and many even eventually got married…and now there is the first wave of divorces) just because they’d already put so much “effort” in and their finances were already intermingled, so they just went through with it and hoped their problems would magically resolve after marriage. Then they were suprised when they didn’t. I think this is why more marriages end if divorce if a couple lived together before the marriage—because there IS a percentage that end up getting hitched just because they feel like they should.
Also, my thoughts are undeniably colored by what I experienced in my own life (dating a guy for a loooong time who I prolly would have married if we lived together just because we were together so long and it was expected, thankfully we didn’t and I ended up with my Fiance instead) and whatI read on these boards sometimes (girls “waiting” for months and years while the guy is in no hurry because what guy is going to get excited about shelling out a ton of money for a 1 day party when he already has they girl living at home, paying half the rent and picking up his socks?).
Sorry I wrote a book. I tend to do that.