Finding Mr. Right: When Moving In Together Works

By Josie Brown

If you’re a couple who is contemplating cohabitation, do yourself a favor and don’t sign any long-term lease.

It’s likely that your Significant Other likes having you around for company, but may not be ready for that “til death do us part” commitment.

That isn’t keeping couples from moving in together. The latest U.S. Census for 2008 reported 13.6 million unmarried, heterosexual couples currently live together. In fact, researchers say 50% to 60% of couples who marry today lived together first. It’s also noted that 70% of young adults will cohabit.

However, most couples who live together either marry or break up within two years.

This information comes from a new federally funded study of 1,294 unmarried Americans between 18 and 34 years of age.

A common theme among couples who have first lived together is their assumption that it would be easier to break off the relationship if it were not formalized.

Not quite. Or, as noted in a Pew Study: “Once a couple is living together, the fact that they share possessions, pets and children, and have invested time in their relationship may propel them to marry.” It also indicates that these couples were unprepared for a long-term commitment, and therefore more unhappy in the relationship, and more likely to encounter conflicts with their partners.

Other findings from the Census study:

  • Most couples didn’t consciously decide to live together; two-thirds of cohabitors said they either “slid into it” or “talked about it, but then it just sort of happened.” Just one-third talked about it and made a decision to live together.
  • The more religious are less likely to cohabit: 49% of dating couples and 30% of cohabitors surveyed agree that “my religious beliefs suggest that it is wrong for people to live together without being married.”

Participants complete questionnaires two to three times a year; more than 100 questions are in each survey. More than two-thirds are in a serious dating relationship; 32% live together.

Of those cohabiting, 66% moved in before making plans to marry; 23% planned to marry but weren’t engaged, and 11% moved in when they got engaged.

If a couple wants to make that change in status from lover/room mates to loving spouses, they can better ensure a lifetime of love and commitment if they remember this:

#1. A marriage succeeds only if it has the heartfelt desire by both partners to a lifetime of love and commitment. One partner’s desire is not enough.

#2. Saying “I do” is just the beginning of your long journey together, not the end. Exchanging vows in front of friends and family is just the first step. Staying together through hardships, trauma and trying times is what tests and strengthens your relationship.

#3. In successful marriages, couples grow together, and allow each other to grow individually as well. Change is a life-long process, and should be expected and appreciated in a marriage. Should you grow in different directions, appreciating change in your partner will keep your love alive.

#4. Passion feeds a couple’s attraction. To keep love alive, keep lust a part of your lives together.


FMR-Bk-SmallJosie Brown,’s Relationships Channel Editor, is the author of four novels. Her most recent is THE BABY PLANNER. Other novels include SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED, and TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES.

She is also the author, along with her husband, Martin, of the perfect self-help manual for your BFF (…okay, and for you, too). It’s THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO FINDING MR. RIGHT.



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