But in a recent study of married and just-living-together couples, a researcher at the University of Virginia found that the brains of spouses responded differently to stress than the brains of living-together couples.
Couples were hooked up to a f MRI and warned that they were about to be given a small electric shock.
It takes time to find out if your future plans sync up.
Arielle Kuperberg, assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says that the important characteristic is not whether people lived together first, but how old they were when they decided to share a front door.
“It turns out that cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce and probably never did,” says Kuperberg.
Not surprisingly, more attractive people were more likely to get married than less attractive people, but not by much, and mostly that rule only applied to women.
The paper also found, for what it’s worth, that cohabitation was likely to lead to marriage for women with “above average grooming” and men with “above average personalities.” Good looking men—those Lotharios— were more likely to cohabit without getting married.
"To sustain a relationship, couples have to share common goals, values, and interests along with sexual attraction and emotional maturity," says Christine Meinecke, Ph D, author of Everybody Marries the Wrong Person.
We're not saying that marriage can never work for couples who tie the knot sooner than a year—but if you can put time on your side, what's the rush?
After all, if he's really The One, then even after one year, he still will be.
Now that you know the ideal amount of time to be dating before you get married, check out what experts say is the best age to get married.
Dopamine makes us feel overly positive, which can mask the fact that maybe your union doesn't have long-term legs, says Miles.
That high usually starts to wear off in six months to a year, and those behaviors you thought you could live with or were even cute and quirky—for example, his forgetfulness or penchant for being 10 minutes late for everything—suddenly become super annoying potential deal breakers.
Read: How an Insensitive Jerk Saved my Marriage One of the reasons cohabitation was linked with divorce in prior years was that poorer people tended to move in together and then slide into marriage when they got pregnant. So it might not have been the cohabitation, but the poverty that was causing the split. The situation today has changed—70% of all women aged 30 to 34 have lived with a boyfriend, according to Kuperberg, and many of them are educated and wealthy.