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Here's what they each had to say about how it all went down.

It was about six weeks of casually dating before we agreed to be exclusive.

Adding some clarity, the perception of knowing a partner "very well" at the time of marriage reduced the likelihood of divorce by 50 percent at any given time point as well.

The subjective judgment of knowing someone well, then, needn't correlate with time. Your wedding might be magical, but becoming married isn't a magical experience that will instantly transform an unstable, unhealthy relationship into a stable, healthy one. One problem that can detour a marriage that seems to be headed in the right direction is the introduction of unexpected new knowledge about a partner.

Eventually, one of you calls the other your boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time, and that's that.

I spoke to six women in exclusive relationships about how long they dated their current partners before deciding to be exclusive, and if anything changed when they did so.

Should their arrangement transition to marriage, these initial uncertainties could help explain why cohabitation before marriage sometimes leads to lower marital satisfaction (Kamp, Cohan, & Amato, 2003).

Couples that are already highly committed, and cohabitate for other reasons—to spend more time together—might be better poised to move towards marriage.

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Do you expect that things will be different in marriage?Before you get married, consider how your relationship typically operates.Specifically, are you a low- or high-conflict couple?They're essentially just two different ways of saying the same thing: you're dating each other and no one else.Some people consider exclusivity to be the first step.

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