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[QUOTE=SophiaM]I'm with Ruth on this one: don't cook and clean for a guy who's not your husband! You can occasionally cook him a nice meal, but cleaning for him, doing laundry, etc. is like willingly choosing slavery LOL. He gets everything for free. From what I've seen, most women who behaved like housewives towards a guy who was just a boyfriend, didn't get the part in reality. In theory, he should appreciate you so much for doing all these things for him, but for some reason, guys rarely do. My good friend couldn't even boil water so obviously she never cooked for her then bf and in general, he was the one putting more effort than she did, and of course he married her. She now cleans and does the laundry but still hates to cook and he thinks she's the perfect wife.[/QUOTE]

I can see why what Sophia and Ruth say makes sense if you're looking to get married soon, and in principle I tend to agree. I would definitely steer clear of any man who expects the woman to do all the housework--what a sexist and outdated way of thinking. Though I realize that most women do end up with most of the burden of running their households, it's not right for a man to assume that's the way things should be. I know that many of the posters here who advise against living together before marriage have a good point and want to warn women against giving guys everything they want right off the bat.

I'd really like to hear more from Ruth and Sophia or other posters who argue against living together. I know that's a popular position here, but to me, a lot of these arguments don't seem to ring true. For example, if men agree to marry women who won't live with them because they enjoy the challenge, doesn't that suggest that they would be inclined to get bored and look elsewhere after they settle down and get married? Why shouldn't women strive for a man who wants to be with them unconditionally, who won't get turned off by settling down into a committed, domestic situation too soon? I would think those guys are the most likely to become lasting, loyal life partners. And wouldn't it be better to find out if the man will pull his weight and treat his partner as an equal before luring him into marriage? It's not like once you get married, everything is easy and rosy. We hear from lots of unhappy husbands and wives, and it's a lot harder to end things if the couple discovers they don't do well living together AFTER they marry.

I definitely disagree with Sophia's point that living with a man gives him the benefits of marriage "for free," as if marriage was some monetary prize that women should strategically scheme to attain. Haven't we progressed past thinking that marriage should be the be-all-and-end-all goal, the pinnacle of achievement, for a woman? OK, so you hold out on living together and succeed in getting him to marry you, then what? Does that mean that it's okay to do these household duties you equate to slavery once you're married, as long as you're "compensated" by marriage? Sophia, I also don't understand why you seem to be suggesting that our grandmothers and mothers had it better because they refused to settle for anything but marriage--but isn't it a good thing that we've progressed to the point where women don't have to get married to survive, where they are able to support themselves rather than having to get married in order to move out of their parents' houses? How many millions of women in past generations married someone they didn't truly love, or stayed in loveless marriages, because they wouldn't have been able to support themselves and their children without their husbands' help? I just can't understand the argument that women in the past had it better because they preferred marriage to living together or that living together is "the dumbest idea" women have accepted, one that's leaving them worse off than they were when marriage was the only acceptable way to live together? I'd much rather be able to make my own money, choose my partner for love rather than out of necessity, and leave any relationship that doesn't live up to my expectations.

The fact that the divorce rate is slightly higher for couples who lived together first doesn't mean living together is a barrier to a happy marriage. It's just as likely that women who didn't live with their spouses before marriage had financial reasons for marrying quickly and may be less likely to end an unhappy marriage because they didn't attain the education and job experience to support themselves as single women. The point is, statistics can be manipulated to argue any point you want, but I don't see why marriage should be considered a more desirable goal than living together without considering the quality of the relationship.

I guess I should say that I'm happily living together with the love of my life. We fell in love at first sight and started living together within a week...we couldn't stand to be apart, and neither of us is in any hurry to get married until there is some practical/financial benefit to doing so, because we consider ourselves married already. I have to say, I can't imagine any married couple being happier, closer, or more firmly committed to each other. He does all the dishes, most of the other housework, and truly appreciates any cooking or other chores I do for his benefit. I know I've found the man of my dreams, and I've never felt any need to give him a deadline for marrying me, because I know he'll stick by my side forever. Marriage can't salvage or even improve a relationship that isn't rock solid already, only make it more difficult to get out if a relationship goes bad. Actually, I've never been dumped, cheated on, or had a guy hesitate to commit to me, while my friends who are eager to marry seem to have nothing but bad luck with relationships and guys breaking their trust--and I know these relationships wouldn't be any happier if my friends had succeeded in getting these losers to marry them. I guess I just see a wonderful relationship where both partners feel cherished and secure as the important thing, not the legal status, which doesn't seem to guarantee or even correlate with a happy relationship. But I am very interested in the reasoning behind opposing arguments if anyone would like to elaborate further on their views.

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