I have lived with two men, and married both of them. (Not at the same time. At completely different, unrelated times. I got divorced from one before I married the other.)
I have to say that most of my friends are married, I presume happily, and most if not all of them lived with their spouses before they got married. I am not making a colossal statement against living together. Also, for me it is not a religious issue. The religion in which I was raised does not believe it is a sin. But for me, I can say I would not be twice divorced if we hadn't live together before marriage. And I know that's not a popular thing to say.
I met my first husband when I was 18, and moved in with him 3 months later. I met my second husband when I was 27, and waited a whole 8 months to move in with him, because I was so much wiser, and more importantly I had a dog and his apartment didn't allow dogs. After I had to put my dog to sleep we moved in together post haste. I was in such a rush I even broke my lease.
Looking back, I would not have married either of them had I not lived with them first. I had read about how living together leads to divorce more often, but I thought it was because people who don't live together are also people that would be less likely to get divorced anyway due to religious convictions. I didn't think that was relevant information.
If you have been reading my blog for more than a week, you will know that I am a pretty liberal woman who was raised in a very non-traditional household. In some ways, "coming out" in support of a traditional belief is heresy. I'm not exactly comfortable with it, but I can only speak from my own experience. My own experience is that if we had not lived together, I would not have married either man.
I knew before I married each of them that there were serious issues, and both times I was so overwhelmed with the idea of moving out that I stayed. Renting a truck, finding a new place, finding people to help lift heavy objects all seemed like too much work. Also, once you start living together, you stop questioning if you should be getting married. Forward momentum carries you into the next stage. Don't get me wrong, I was not a reluctant bride. I pushed hard to get married. Once I moved in, I let him know (each respective him) that he better put a ring on my finger and within my allotted time frame, and both did. I am not sure if they would have proposed had we not been living together, either. It is easier to maintain the status quo.
The problem is that once you live together, you lose the ability to have some space to think about things. You either have a major break up or you get married. Major break ups are not only emotional but embarrassing, and there's that whole feeling like a failure thing. You stop questioning if you are the best person for each other.
Again, I am not saying living together is wrong. I am not saying that I wouldn't do it again, even. But if I do, I won't take it so lightly. For me, throwing my lot in with his is the major commitment, not the ceremony with the big dress.
With kids, living together is akin to marriage in terms of how scarred they will be if it doesn't work out. To a child, moving vans are traumatic, even if the family is staying together and moving to a bigger and better house. Moving vans because the family is splitting up is something they really don't need to go through over and over, even if the adults weren't legally married. It feels the same.
Oh, you think I'm preachy do you, and don't know what I'm talking about? My father collected wives like some people collect sports cars. I have had 4.5 step mothers - the "half a stepmother" was someone he was with for 5 years and never married. The fact that they were not married did not lessen the loss for me. Not liking the stepmothers did not lessen the loss either.
Oh, by the way, my father has now been married 20 years to the same woman, and guess what? They didn't live together beforehand either.
If you are thinking about moving in with your boyfriend, I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying think long and hard about it first. You aren't trying out the commitment, you are making a pretty big one.