These days, most couples live together before marriage – but the rate of breakups among couples who live together is even higher than the divorce rate. Some people might claim that’s because of a deficiency of moral fiber, but moral fiber can’t keep a relationship happy even if it keeps the relationship together. The real problem is that people often think long and hard about marriage, but since moving in together seems like a smaller step, they may not stop to ask themselves hard questions about making their routines and finances compatible first. Moving in, though, adds whole new dimensions to a relationship, and if you don’t think through all of those new dimensions first, you’re likely to find that you and your girlfriend or boyfriend have made very different assumptions… assumptions that can put major strain on your relationship. Here are five things you should know before you take that step.
Who’s Doing Which Chores?
Sure, it seems trivial – but this is a question that can blow up into constant arguments and resentment if you don’t make sure it’s resolved before you share a living space. Do you and your partner have the same expectations of cleanliness? Whichever partner has higher standards of neatness is likely to end up shouldering the majority of the chores, because they’ll clean when they notice things getting dirty, and that’s going to make them constantly upset that their partner isn’t pulling their weight. You need to work out a schedule that both of you can live with, and you need to stick to it once it’s established. That one trick will save you easily two-thirds of the new arguments that often come with moving in together. Click Here to see the top 10 things couples fight about.
Who’s Paying Which Bills?
Finances are an important aspect of living together. It can feel weird and awkward to talk about money with someone you love for the first time, but it feels worse to realize that you had different expectations about money, and one of you is shouldering too many expenses and feels like their partner is freeloading. Work out a household budget. You don’t have to wind up paying the same amount – if one of you is in a high-paying career and the other is a student, you probably won’t – but you do need to know, before moving in together, what you expect of each other.
What Are Your Schedules Like?
You probably know many aspects of your partner’s schedule already. You know if they stay up late or if they can’t stand sleeping in past six. You know when they work, and when they like to go out or stay in. What you may not have thought about is what it will be like to share the same space with them, based on that schedule. If you’re a night owl who likes to watch TV until one a.m., and your partner goes to bed at 10 and gets up at 6, you’re going to need to think about how to adjust your schedules and habits to keep both of you happy.
How Will Your Relationship Change?
Moving in together is a big change in your relationship. It often comes with unspoken expectations on both sides. Maybe one of you is used to eating a family dinner every night, and the other is used to having takeout whenever they get home and watching TV. The person who expects a family dinner is going to feel rejected if their partner comes home with a burger and fries… while the person who’s used to takeout might not realize that they’ve done anything hurtful at all. It’s important to take some time to talk over your expectations with your partner. You might not end up having that family dinner, but even if your partner still wants takeout, you can be reassured that it doesn’t mean they don’t care.
Where Are You Going From Here?
For some people, cohabiting is the first step towards marriage. For others, it may be an end in itself. It also means linking your lives and lifestyles together more closely than they can ever be when you’re living separately. You need to know if your partner is going to stay in the same area, or if they have career or life plans that might involve moving somewhere else. You also need to agree on whether you see marriage as the end goal of your relationship, whether you’re content without it, and what kind of schedule you’re imagining for it in the long run.