Married vs. Living Together: Which Works Best?

Defining the Right Relationship for You

For most couples today, the question of whether or not to get married is a choice. For others in this world, though, the luxury of choice still doesn’t exist. This could be for reasons that are cultural, religious, legal or personal. Whatever the reason, marriage is supposed to be a commitment between two people, something special and personal, and in a perfect world, it would be a choice everyone had.

Shacking Up

Living with someone may be considered a commitment by the two people making the choice to live together, but it is far from being married. The whole dynamic of living together vs. being married is based on two totally different approaches to a relationship.

When you live with someone, it’s far too easy to take a cavalier attitude towards true commitment. “If we fight, we don’t have to work through it; we can just separate or move out.” Even if that’s not your intention, the underlying truth still exists; it’s all too easy to walk away if things don’t go just right. There’s no motivation to compromise. Unless you truly intend on making this the stage before the ultimate commitment of marriage, the motivation to make things work in a way that’s best for both of you doesn’t exist. If it’s working, great; if it’s not, oh well. No one says “oh well” when a marriage isn’t working. They are more invested emotionally, financially and physically to making life together work in a way that works for both of you as a couple. Compromise is a big part of marriage.

For some couples, like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, for instance, living together is their commitment, and they make it work, but they are the rarity in this scenario, not the norm.

Reasons to Tie the Knot

There are many reasons why people choose to marry, the most romantic of which is the joining of two souls as one. It’s the culmination of a romance, and the beginning of a new life together. It’s an expression of their feelings, showing the world that they are as one.

Whatever the motivation, marriage is a commitment, first and foremost. Many people confuse marriage with living together, and they’re not fully committed to the good, the bad and the ugly, because relationships aren’t always all hearts and roses. In the true sense of the word, marriage should be a union of souls and hearts, committed to the happiness of the couple as a whole.

In the end, the choice to marry or live together should be a decision made between two people who want to be together, without the weight of other’s expectations or opinions being a factor. Do what works for you, but know there is a difference between shacking up and tying the knot.

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15 thoughts on “Married vs. Living Together: Which Works Best?

  1. nerry

    I have been with my partner for 5 years and we have lived together for over 3 and a half years we are not married or even engaged. We have had our up’s and downs (major ones at that) and we would never walk away from each other. We are best friends, lovers and partners. I’m that mate he calls up after work to meet him at the pub to talk about a rough day at work and the partner who shares all our hobbies together like kyaking, fishing, camping, hiking, rock climbing and caving and we are the lovers who have date night, dinners by candle light and romantic weekends away. It all sounds lovely, and it is but wow it still takes some work to be not just a couple but a happy couple. We talk about marriage all the time we both wan’t it but just haven’t got their yet, due to studying, starting new bussinesses and saving for what we want; a farm, kids and education, but we will get there, neither of us would walk away from our partnership. To much has gone into it to get to where we are today. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jean Ann Alexandre

    Excuse-me, while I have believed in mariage 100%, my life has pointed out to me that I was imitating Mum and Dad. My first mariage went on the rocks with my husband running after another woman (so it was heat, heat and heat he was looking for).

    Then, my second husband has been a baby-man, whenever he was out of his own equilibrium.

    I have also noticed that past hurts play a role in present approaches to love, life and sex in general and also, especially when there is build-up resentment which one does not manage to express, due to pride or stubbornness, maybe even shyness or shame and the infamous ‘non-dit’. Boredome may also raise its head like a monster.. or worse, jealousy even with time alloted out to another person, even a child.

    So while I would like very much to go ‘hear, hear’ to your article, I find it extremely idealistic.

    There are so many factors which occasionne change in feelings, in desire levels, in the overall constellations which do have their say in how we function….

    Recently, I have been led up the path by an oesteopathe who got me to approach him and repeatedly enticed and rejected me – he is a handsome 46 year old man whom I found out later on cheats on his wife apparently, but just could not do so with me ! Here was I hot, available and divorced, to boot. Who could be safer ? I could see that he desired me. Whatever happened ? I secretly feel that I kept him at bay in a manner which I am unable to unravel. Considering the facts, I have a hard time believing his higher self won over me.

    To conclude, if we like to keep our money safe for our retirement, yes, mariage is a good deal. House, car, savings, children, grandchildren and prospective trips abroad together in old age. Lovely compensation for not wondering off.

    Otherwise, the body does look for alternate feeding places, even if we do not want to admit it. Nature’s callings, the most natural thing in the world. Hope this does not shock anyone. J.Anne

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  3. Jenny

    My partner and I have been “shacking up” for 17 years now. Our relationship has been very committed since the beginning. In fact, the depth of commitment we feel is part of why we don’t get married. We don’t feel that it would change anything. We have been through many changes together and we work through the rough spots together. This year we bought a house and brought. Beautiful baby into the world. Our bond is stronger than ever. We still aren’t getting married because we both know that neither of us is going to bail and we are both exactly where we want to be. And marriage isn’t going to change that one bit.

    There is no reason to devalue our relationship by giving it the term “shacking up”. Our relationship is as valid as any married relationship and we don’t need a piece of paper just to prove it.

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  4. Josie

    In my case, I needed a place to stay. A guy I had remet up with needed a room-mate. We are now together, almost 6 months. It’s been a long trip. We are in some ways very different and have learned to compramise on things, in other areas…we’ve learned to accept the other person. Both of us have a view of see how this will go and go day by day, and so far it’s worked. My family loves him, I get along with his for the most part. He’s probably the only guy I’ve been with that has actually met my kids, and the only one in a long time that has gotten along with my dad right off the bat. We don’t see living together as…if it doesn’t work then we can split, we see it as help and working together. Having two people who love to do things on their own, and working together is an amazing thing….I just wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. In fact it doesn’t always seem to work out for most that I have watched, and I know it didin’t work out for me the last time I tried it.

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  5. Hilario

    marriage is most important in a bond between husband and wife without it it will fell so many marriage does not work because no communication with each other relatioship must maintain love harmony,joy and cheerfullnes between husband and wiife. Number one most of al is to pray GOD grace to strengthen the marriage bond.

    Reply
  6. Reed x 5105Reed x 5105

    To me, commitment is something that comes from the heart and mind. A marriage certificate can be a wonderful symbol of that commitment – but it isn’t the only way to go.

    If I were in a situation where the only thing keeping my partner with me was a legal document, I’d rather have my partner leave. I need for my partner to be committed to me out of free will, not legal obligation.

    Still, it’s bad that not everyone is allowed to have that legal document.

    Everyone is allowed to make or not make a commitment.
    Do what feels right for yourself.

    Reed 5105

    Reply
  7. Thunder

    If we marry for all those ‘commitment’ issues, why are there so many divorces? and why are people signing ‘pre-nups’ if we’re supposed to trust each other and be committed to each other. Nah, I go for living together and what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. Life is happier that way, and we still love each other very much.

    Reply
  8. misskrystalmisskrystal

    Great article-I feel whatever feels right and works best for an individual. Be true yourself.
    Living together is not for everyone-I say that because it is something you have to have a lot of confidence, about, and not care what others think-also, what is true to your heart…We all have our reasons. I support both. Don’t compromise. I can give you a hint, though-as far as cohabitation, you should feel super excited to do this-if there are “buts” it may be best to wait-
    Thanks, Miss Krystal

    Reply
  9. Lisa

    Good points LJ!

    However, with the high divorce rate I would guess that married couples are taking the same attitude that you mention of those shacking up. As soon as there is trouble in the marriage, couples seem to quick to walk away instead of working it out.

    I believe it depends on the commitment on each indididual whether living together or married.

    Reply
  10. Cyn

    Wow. Really, wow. In this day and age it is impossible for many couples to marry due to the financial, employment and health care crisis. I have no health insurance and no chance of getting any. If I marry I risk strapping my partner with financial ruin and debt forever. Living together that simply does not happen. Not married, many people qualify for aid that is denied married people.

    And really, many of us have been down the aisle more than once with disasterous results. Why do that again when it made no difference the first (few) times?

    Marriage is a business deal. Commitment to the happiness of the couple has nothing to do with a document from whichever state allows “marriage” to people.

    Reply
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