real life

For every woman who is relieved she never married that guy she once lived with.

By MIA FREEDMAN

Before I met my husband, I had three defacto relationships. From my late teens to my early twenties, there where three occasions where a boyfriend and I moved  in together and this lasted anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year.

While the experiences and the blokes were very different, all three guys had this one thing in common: I AM REALLY GLAD I NEVER MARRIED ANY OF THEM.

One was a cheat and a compulsive liar. Another was an emotionally abusive drug addict. One was lovely (and remains a close friend) but we were totally unsuited for the long haul. And it took a period of living together to discover all of these things.

Which is why I say bollocks when anyone claims couples should automatically get married instead of  living together. Yesterday, social services minister Kevin Andrews insisted that “the numbers don’t lie” and that married couples are more likely to stay together than de factos. PUT A RING ON IT, he said. It’s a safer and more secure  – especially for kids.

Well duh.

There’s a good reason why more de facto relationships break up. It’s because THEY ARE MEANT TO.  Thank heavens bad relationships end – hopefully before other more permanent commitments are made like pets, property and children. This is a good thing. It’s part of natural relationship selection and I personally have benefited from this process several times.

Haven’t you?

If only Kim had lived with that other husband before they got married. Coulda saved herself so many hassles.

Living together fast-tracks a relationship. No question. You learn stuff about someone – and about yourselves as a couple – 10 times faster when you’re living together than when you’re just dating and keeping separate addresses.

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It’s a basic human truth that not all relationships are Meant To Be. Every time you have sex with someone – or move in together – it should not necessarily end in marriage. It really, really shouldn’t.

To suggest otherwise is madness.

So when politicians – especially politicians like Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews who is deeply Christian and believes the only ‘true’ family is a married heterosexual couple with children – dole out relationship advice, my hackles immediately go up.

To use statistics about marriage and divorce as a weasel way to infect and inject religious beliefs into public debate about marriage and families, is disingenuous at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

Which brings us back to defactos.

I think living together is an invaluable part of establishing how compatible you are with someone. And I think it’s a pretty crucial step before making other big commitments..

If you move in and it doesn’t work out, that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you failed. It means you learned. You learned about what you do – and don’t – want in a partner. Putting a ring on a flawed relationship is not “security” as Kevin Andrews and some others claim. Because marriage for the sake of marriage benefits nobody but the wedding industry and those with hardline religious views who still see living together as a sin.

Have you ever lived with a partner before? What did it teach you?