WebMD BlogsRelationships

Get Married or Just Live Together?

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistSeptember 23, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

“Once you get married, it’s all downhill. So, why not live together and keep the happiness going?” No doubt you’ve heard something like this before. But, according to researchers, this common advice is flawed.

In truth, a couple’s happiness after moving in together really depends much more on the nature of their relationship than whether or not they are married. Cohabitating couples who are engaged or have agreed that they want to move toward marriage tend to do well compared to other unmarried couples. However, couples who live together without such future plans are more similar to couples who don’t live together.

The difference is likely in the commitment that couples intent on marriage feel toward each other. If you see moving in together as part of the process of building a shared life, then you are more likely to find that it strengthens your relationship. Still, you must be sure that the timing is right and that you are both ready for the increased attention you’ll need to give the relationship. Other factors are also important. For instance, consider these questions: Does living with someone outside of marriage fit with your values? Will cohabitating cause problems in your families? If so, how will the two of you handle this?

If deciding to live together is just about convenience or being swept up in your emotions and not wanting to think past the moment, then you may find that your relationship doesn’t improve after moving in. In fact, you will be at risk for increased problems. Living together happily with someone involves accommodation and caring and teamwork. All of these require conscious effort – at least for the long haul.

Many couples that are unsure about cohabitating choose to first spend more time together. They might spend days at a time at each other’s place. Over time, they might begin to leave personal items, such as clothes and a toothbrush. But keep in mind that this is different than truly sharing a home.

If you and your partner are considering moving in together, you will do yourself a favor by making it a conscious decision. The emotions and logistics involved are significant. The future of your relationship is also at stake. So, take the time to think and talk about it. Then, if you decide that the time is right, hold hands as you leap into a new life together.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

WebMD Blog
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

More from the Relationships Blog

  • giving advice

    Think Twice Before You Give Advice

    If only we were as good at solving our own problems as we are at solving other people’s. But like so many great ideas, our solutions for others often become less perfect the more we learn about the problem ...

  • photo of couple arguing in bed

    How to Keep Your Emotions From Overwhelming You

    If you’re someone who gets emotionally overwhelmed, relationship conflict can be difficult to manage. When you get upset with your partner, you don’t handle it well. You are too upset to think clearly. So you ...

View all posts on Relationships

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More