good way to initially assess the compatibility of the two of you in an
intimate situation. However, this is a tricky undertaking, because (1)
you are deeply in love romantically, probably still infatuated, and
eager to continue impressing and winning over the partner (who is not
the same person you will live with for 60 years or so), but (2) you are
also attempting to honestly assess the quality of this relationship in
the long run and must be willing to leave the relationship (otherwise it
isn't a test or a trial). While you are not unswervingly committed to
marrying your partner, you must make every effort to make it work.
While appreciating his/her efforts to be especially nice, you must not
assume he/she will always be this nice. These are difficult
undertakings and judgments, even for a mature, experienced person.
But it is even more complex.
In addition, before starting a trial marriage (even before having
sex), both people might want to consider the advantages of "saving"
sex and living together until after marriage. For many people, their
wedding day could be made an even more super-special event with
great personal-social-sexual-spiritual meaning if they "saved
themselves." In addition, during a trial marriage, both people have to
consider how good the current relationship is in comparison to another
relationship they could possibly have with a different partner. That's
very hard to do. In short, there aren't compelling reasons either way,
i.e. for "saving yourself" or for a "trial marriage." Therefore, it
becomes an emotional, intuitive decision, rather than a logical one.
Yet, in most situations (assuming religion wouldn't be a problem), I'd
want to live with and/or be very involved with my lover on a daily
basis for months before making a life-long commitment to marriage
My last bit of obvious advice: don't get pregnant. In fact, wait 3
or 4 years after getting married and be sure the relationship is still
happy before having children. Splitting without children is a lot
easier than with children.
Keep living together in perspective. It is just one of many possible
"tests" for a potential partner. The best predictor of a good marriage is
a long, relatively smooth relationship, in which a wide variety of
problems and successes are experienced. In addition, long, detailed
discussions and commitments are needed about many possible future
situations, such as educational and career plans of both, having and
caring for children by both, family relationships, religious matters,
money matters, life-style, social lives, buying a home, decision-making
and division of labor, etc., etc. (Bozzi, 1986).
Get pre-marital counseling
Several months before getting married it is a good idea to get pre-
marital counseling. Many priests and ministers require it if he/she is
going to perform the marriage. Clergy have more experience than