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Real Talk: Do You Need a Ring Before Living with Him?

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Couple Holding Hands
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Last night, I tuned in to The Real Housewives of Atlanta, my favorite actually-not-so-guilty-anymore pleasure. So far, all but one of the women have been on their best behavior this season, and most of the ladies have come into their own, especially when it comes to love.
 
Kandi Burruss has come a long way, baby. When we “met” her on the show, she was engaged to AJ, a man her daughter adored and her mother wasn’t so fond of because he had multiple children. This season, Kandi’s got a man, Todd, who seems to be a great guy, and she has never looked happier. Things are going so well that after months of dating,they decided to move in together. Kandi’s situation made me consider again whether moving in together before marriage is a good idea.
 
Couples who live together before marriage and those who don't both have about the same chances of a successful union, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. So no worries: Cohabitation won’t hurt your odds of going the distance, as older studies reported. But even in an era where two-thirds of couples live together prior to marrying, I’ve found myself unwilling to do it.
 
I totally get all the pro-cohabitation arguments. As anyone who’s ever turned a best friend into a roommate knows, you don’t really know someone until you live with them. And especially living in New York, one of the most expensive cities in the country, the idea of having a partner to share the bills is very attractive. But I still can’t do it.
 
As much as I would gladly be up to share a space with a husband, giving a boyfriend, even one I love, that level of access to my life just doesn’t seem so appealing. And yes, there’s a part of me that hears my mother’s words ringing in my ears about men not buying cows when they can get milk for free. Would there be an incentive to become actual husband and wife if we’re already living like we are? I’ve seen too many friends fall into the trap of thinking moving in was a step in the direction of marriage, only to find themselves years down the line without a ring and a complacent boyfriend who thinks things are “just fine” the way there are.
 
And then there’s my fear of a breakup. Horror stories abound here about couples who live together, then break up and keep living together for months while they work things out. Added to that is the potentially ugly “who gets what?” argument where an unmarried couple can end up arguing over ownership like they’re getting a divorce. For me, cohabitation and its potential pitfalls seem too much like taking on all the headaches of marriage, but without ever getting the real benefits of one.
 
Did you live with your spouse before you were married?
 
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria) in storesnow. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

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