It’s been six months, and you’re already spending a few nights a week staying at your partner’s place or vice versa. Maybe it’s time?
Cohabitation, shacking up, taking the halfway plunge, moving in, living together. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the closest thing to marriage without the wedding vows. And it’s happening more and more frequently. Nearly 50% of all couples getting married have already lived together, according to a Rutgers University study. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia says cohabitation has increased more than 1,500% since the 1960s. With that increase, A CDC study also reports that 50% of couples that move in together break up within 5 years.
This increase in couples living together can be attributed to several factors from the economy, to increased cultural acceptance, or the availability of birth control. Whatever the cause, many couples choose to move in together without really considering all the pros and cons and the short and long term affects on their relationship. And while an exhaustive list isn’t possible, here are seven things we think couples should think about before moving in together.
7 Things to Think About Before Moving In Together
1 – Why are you thinking about moving in together?
Have you both discussed it and are you on the same page? Couples, or rather guys, often refer to moving in as taking a test drive. They think living together will let them know if they are compatible before getting married. For many, they see the divorce rate, or they come families where divorce occurred and they think cohabitation will help them avoid that fate. We hear this more from guys. “You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it out for a test drive first”, they say. Well, if they don’t like the test drive, what is the return policy? The problem isn’t just with what a “test drive” communicates, it’s that studies show that couple stat live together before they get married are actually more likely to get a divorce than those who don’t. So it’s more like a test drive before leasing a car than buying one.
It’s important to be clear and honest about your expectations when you discuss why you want to move in together. Many times women think that moving in together is that next step towards a ring, while he may be thinking it means more frequent sex, half the rent and someone to clean up after him. We know, those are stereotypes, but the reality is if you both aren’t on the same page about why you want to move in together, you are both going to end up frustrated.
2 – Do you want children?
“Whoaaaaaa! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves” is probably what you are thinking. We haven’t even talked about any of the details like where we’re going to live, and whether we want to get married yet. Well, you better start talking about children sooner rather than later, especially when you consider that around 20% of women who are cohabiting will get pregnant within the first year of moving in together. So talking about this first is pretty important. After all, you’ll probably want to know if he’s going to stick around or leave you holding a baby or facing an abortion alone.
If one of you already has kids, that increases the importance of making sure it’s the right move. Kids need stability and a feeling of safety, so if children are involved, we recommend you think about it a little longer than it it’s just you.
3 – Money, Money, Money, Money
This is a big one and clarifying expectations up front about finances may make or break the relationship. Money is the #1 source of conflict in most relationships, whether married or cohabiting. You need to be clear about who’s paying the bills and managing the money. Are you splitting all expenses 50/50 – groceries, nights out, vacations and trips to see family, or do you have another plan? What about rent and whose name is on the lease? Which brings us to our next topic…
4 – Where are you going to live?
Your place is bigger. Their place has lower rent. Your lease is up sooner. They can probably find someone to take over their lease more easily. These are all things to consider when moving in, but maybe not the most important things. Inviting someone into what was “your” space can be challenging. Are you ready to give up part of what was your closet? How will they respond when their workspace becomes your home office? Sometimes, finding a new space where you can start fresh and establish your routines together is a good idea. That way no one is territorial about what was his or her space. With this comes the challenge of finding a new space, as well as planning or at least thinking ahead about how you will work things out if the relationship doesn’t.
5 -What if it doesn’t work out?
It was just a test drive, and it just didn’t work. Easy to say, but not so easy to work out in the end. The expectations for moving in together are different than those with marriage. Unfortunately, with cohabitation both men and women tend to set their standards just a little bit lower than if they were looking for a spouse. And while that makes it much easier to get into a live-in relationship, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get out. What they thought was a low-risk decision, isn’t always. A shared lease can leave someone homeless. Shared possessions and pets can lead to an even uglier break up. And shared children can lead to heartbreak beyond what they ever imagined if the relationship doesn’t work out. All of these things need to be considered before taking a relationship to the next level. Even though none of us imagine they will happen to us, statistics say they are very probable.
6 – We’re so in love, and he/she is perfect for me.
Once you move in your relationship will change – there is no might change, it will. While your partner always looks amazing when you go out, they aren’t always going to look that way. And that perfume or cologne you love, yeah, they won’t smell that way when they come back from the gym and neither will their sweaty clothes lying around. Reality does look very different than fantasy when it comes to moving in and you need to talk about it and prepare for it beforehand. Who’s going to do the dishes, clean the table, take out the trash, clean the toilet? Divvying up the responsibilities and chores is something you need to discuss before one of you get’s frustrated because your expectations weren’t met or you end up doing the one task you absolutely can’t stand.
Now that you have the household chores taken care of you’ll need to talk about all the time you’re going to be spending together. At first you’ll love being together 24/7, but over time you’ll realize you still need some personal space. Maybe that’s a night out with friends, maybe it’s a room or corner of a room in your home. Whatever it is, you’ll both need to plan for time away from each other regularly. Especially once you begin to discover those little annoying habits of your partner. We all have them, there’s no getting around it. Maybe it’s weird sleep noises, or how they put the toilet paper on the roll, or that cute laugh that isn’t so cute everyday. Whatever that fingernails-on-the-chalkboard habit is, you’ll need to deal with it openly before frustration gets the best of you.
7 – Do I really want to get married?
While 75% of couples that are living together say they want to get married, many don’t. They are in love, but one or both partners may not be sure marriage is relevant to them or even a good idea. They may have grown up in a divorced family and don’t want to go through that again, so they avoid the commitment of marriage. What they often fail to realize is that those same emotions occur in live-in situations, only they happened more frequently. And so they aren’t able to avoid the hurt, and they miss out on some of the benefits of marriage. Studies consistently show that levels of happiness increase in married couples, they are more content and have a lower death rate than those who live together. Marriage also increases the well being of women as well as men and children. We’re not saying marriage is easy, but statistics show it may be easier than living together.
Living together is a big decision, one that shouldn’t be made without some serious consideration. If moving in with your partner is something you’re thinking about, we would encourage you to take the time to think it through, to weigh the pros and cons and to talk it over with your partner and even someone else who isn’t invested in the relationship. If you need someone to talk to, we’d love to sit down, listen, and help you work through what is going to be the best for you.
If you’ve made the decision to move in and are having second thoughts, we’re here for you too. Bottom line, we care about you and we want you to have healthy relationships because you matter to us.
More from my site