Five years from now, you will be a different person. You will have different interests, different tastes, different challenges.
Date, live together, avoid commitment, and you'll be free to move on to a partner who shares your new interests, matches your new tastes, helps with your new challenges.
That's the choice of many who were exposed to unhappy marriages or divorce while growing up or whose own first marriage ended up in divorce.
I think there's a better choice. Commit -- not to a person who shares all your current interests or tastes, but to someone who shares your most important values. Don't just promise to stay -- invest in the relationship. Build wealth together. Invest in each other's dreams. Make each other's family your own. Tend to each other's health and wellbeing. Set some joint goals.
What's the payoff? The excitement of new interests and tastes introduced into your life by someone who shares your values, cares about you, loves to see you happy, and sees the world just a bit differently from you. The grounded feeling that comes from being intertwined and rooted as you grow, instead of being blown this way and that by people coming and going in your life. The security of support through your rough patches from someone who knows they will be just a small part of your time together. The warmth of doing the same for a loved one. The extra time and money freed up by working together instead of independently and self-protectively.
This is big. It's not just worth the risk of divorce; it's the antidote protecting you from divorce. You'll never get even a glimpse of what's possible as long as you're focused on your current needs or on keeping your exit easy if your needs are not met.
You know how to Assume Love, Expect Love, and Find Third Alternatives now -- or you will as soon as you rummage through the archives here. You know how to take care of a marriage. You know how to avoid unmet needs, hurt feelings, and unnecessary anger or worry. You know you can't grow apart when you're growing together, when you're attuned to your spouse and your interests are changing in response to all of the wonderful new things this person brings into your life. You're all set to make the next five years fantastic ones.
And if kids enter your life, planned or unplanned, there's one more huge payoff. You get to offer them what you may never have had: a parent who loves and finds great happiness in the other most important person in their child's life.