A few years ago, I was sitting in the lobby of the Social Security office building. While waiting for my number to be called, I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. Like most of my conversations, the conversation turned to relationships. She was married to her husband for 35 years. I asked her if she could give me one piece of relationship advice, what would it be? She told me to not move in with the person I was dating before we were married. I have received the same piece of advice on several occasions throughout the years.
Now, this does not mean cohabiting before marriage is going to kill a relationship. Nor does this mean not cohabiting before marriage is the key to a long-lasting relationship. I think the real premise behind this piece of advice is the idea of independence.
Independence is so imperative for a marriage to work. Many people enter marriages without being ‘ready’ for it. And what I mean by ‘ready’ is that they are not mature enough. Prior to getting married, you should be self-sufficient and know how to be an adult on your own. Not only should you be able to take out your own trash (literally), but also you should not seek validation in your partner. Marriages work better when both parties are independent and do not need each other to exist. You are good together. Equally, you are good on your own. People tend to lose their identity and become enmeshed. This creates an unhealthy dependence on another human being. You can contribute more to the relationship, and to your partner, when you are whole. While cohabiting has financial benefits, it does not trump a lack of true independence.