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If you're ready to shack up before you say "I do," you may be getting an earful from friends or family members who think you should wait for marriage to move in together. "Tradition is strong," says April Masini, relationship expert and advice columnist. "Many people are still the first generation to live together and whenever you break tradition, you've got questions to answer and judgment to be passed."
But there are serious advantages to bucking tradition and living together before you tie the knot. Here, our experts share five, so you can make the right decision for you.
1. You get familiar with choreplay.
In case you haven't heard, sharing household responsibilities such as the dishes and laundry is the hottest form of foreplay. (Sheryl Sandberg says so.) And when you live together before you tie the knot, you have the chance to experience sharing those chores — and their respective benefits, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. Not only that, but "you can problem solve and collaborate as partners in terms of finding a fair balance," she says, rather than wait to work that out after the wedding.
2. You can see what marriage will really be like.
Let's face it: "Marriage isn't all romance," Masini says. "Many couples don't understand the mundane day to day living involved in a long-term commitment, and living together before marriage gives them a chance to try on this commitment before sealing the deal with a marriage." By living together before you tie the knot, boring, everyday life won't take you by surprise. "No matter how mature, how educated and how experienced you may think you are, the day to day living in a long-term, committed relationship is less romance than it is managing two lives combined," Masini says.
3. You discover whether your living habits are compatible.
When you live together before you get married, you find out whether your neat freak self can really stand to share close quarters with your disorganized and often messy partner. "You'll find out how tolerant you can be, as well as how upset you each get at your various differences," points out Greer. Your lifestyle habits extend past your waking hours, though, and living together also means learning to sleep together. "You can learn to balance and adapt to each other's sleep schedules," Greer says. "You can start to figure out options for handling your differences and needs, and how this will affect your sexual life — e.g. setting aside time for sex if you're on opposite schedules."
4. You get intimate with your partner's spending habits.
Says Masini, "Your spending habits never seemed to be an issue when you were dating, but living together brings money to the forefront." From who pays for what to how you'll split your bills, getting familiar with your finances before you tie the knot can save you from financial fights in the future. "Learning about each other's money habits and values often happen when you live together," Masini says. "This is invaluable information. If you take three extensions on tax returns and then decide to blow them off for a year because you probably won't get caught — and he files in February of every year, you've got some ground to cover as a couple that you probably didn't know about before living together, and you should before marrying."
5. You can feed one another's sexual appetites.
Says Greer, "You have the opportunity to see what your sexual appetites are once you're together all the time. Once you live together, you're able to be sexually intimate every day, if you like." And if you don't want to get down every day, she says, it's good to learn that before you tie the knot. "You'll get to know each other's level of desire and find a balance in terms of frequency so you can both feel good about your sexual life together," Greer says.