I lived with both my husband and my ex-husband prior to getting married each time. In both situations, we treated it the same as a marriage and had all the same expectations...and yes, in my case it is like a marriage without a license. With my ex, we didn't get married for 4 1/2 years because of various financial issues and his insistence on a real ceremony, and the relationship didn't change after marriage. My husband and I were dating long-distance for about six months before he moved here, then we lived together for a year before getting married. Again, having the piece of paper didn't change a thing for us...we went into the relationship with mutual commitment, exclusivity, and the plan for permanence...the paper only changed my name, our tax status, and our ability to be on the same health insurance plan through his employer.