By Erin McKeon
To live together or not. It's a question many couples ask themselves and a concept that has gained popularity.
For Chrissy Hennessey and Nathan Woodward, who have lived together for seven years, the answer was easy.
"We didn't have any family in Nacogdoches, it was a weird place to settle down and the university brought us here, but without any family or anything, it just made sense," to move in together, Woodward said. "Why not? You're in love, and you're saving money."
The two never thought of their moving in together as a test drive for what marriage would be like, but they're glad they took
They said they first lived with another roommate, and bonded over the things he did that they didn't like.
"He was the one who did the little things that annoyed us and we got to know each other's quirks via him because he was the ‘bad guy,'" Woodward said. "By the time we got our own place, we had all that worked out."
Hennessey said they felt very adult and mature moving in together.
"We learned a lot about compromise, too, because we were sharing a space," she said.
Rebecca Arnold and her boyfriend will be moving together when she finishes school, she said.
"The way we think about it is that we're going to be with each other anywhere we are, so why would we live in two different places if we're just going to be spending all of our time at one place or the other," Arnold said.
After seeing how many people get divorced in this day and age, she wants to live with him first to make sure she can deal with his quirks.
"You learn a lot about a person when you are around them day and night," she said.
Hennessey and Woodward said that was another reason they have liked living together.
"It's a good way to really get to know someone's ins and outs, who they are, and not just who they want you to see," Hennessey said. "You get to see them in the morning when they first wake up and when they get home from work and they're grumpy; not just after they decompress and put on a happy face. You get to see someone through all their moods and issues. You can't really hide anything when you're together."
Arnold said you can never really know what will happen once you're living with someone, but that's part of the learning process.
"We don't know what's going to happen once we spend all our time with each other, but that's what the guest bedroom is for," she said with a laugh.
While the two couples might have chosen to live together, their families have different opinions on what should happen in their relationships.
"Both sets of our parents are more traditional, so they encouraged us to take the next step, in their view, and get married," Woodward said.
His parents didn't think they were committed to each other.
"My parents are both Catholic, and I think they were afraid that without marriage, there was no formal commitment to each other. To us, we don't really need that. I think we reaffirm our commitment to each other all the time."
And for the couple, who has been dating longer than some of their friends have known each other and been married, making sure they're still on the same page with one another is important.
"I think every relationship is different, and what will work for one couple may not work for another, obviously, but we found something that will for us. We're just going to keep doing it as long as it works," Hennessey said.
Arnold said her family is "Christian conservative" so they don't agree with her plans, and his family doesn't know of their plans yet.
"He's Filipino, and the Asian community is really hard-core about family values. I don't think they're going to take it well," she said.
For both couples, when they're ready to get married, if that's what they choose to do, it will happen, they said.
"I think, for a lot of people, marriage and having a family is one of their top goals, and for us, we just have other things we want to do first," Woodward said. "We have been very open about it, and we bring it up all the time to make sure we're on the same page. That communication is important.
"It's not just that I'm holding out and she's not bringing it up, it's a decision we've made together and we're both on the same page, Woodward said. "We'll tackle the rest later."