Relationships come to a point where the question of living together comes up.
Whether you have been dating for several months or several years, moving in together is a huge step. Before now, you have both had your own space so if you needed a break, you could always get it easily. When you were sick or feeling grumpy, you could hide in your own home, warmed by the knowledge that he will not see you looking anything less then perfect. Your space is your space and if you want stuffed animals on your bed, you can have them and if he wants to rebuild his motorcycle in his living room, he is welcome to do it.
Moving in suddenly means compromises, understanding each other’s space, needs and differences. It means discussing core values such as time, money, religion, family, friends, children and marriage so that both parties are entering into the union knowing what to expect.
Here are a few things to consider before moving in:
Can you talk to each other about anything? Moving in together is not a great time to have a ‘wait and see’ or ‘time will tell’ attitude. Before signing a lease together, talk through how the budget will look, who should clean what, which person is doing the cooking on what days, whether buying that big screen TV is a priority or whether the money should be put towards a new car instead
Often in the excitement of moving in together, people buy big ticket items together – a new bed, a new couch, a new car or that darn big screen TV. Talk through what is needed and instead of going halves on items, one of you buys the bed while the other buys the couch. What if you do not want the big screen TV but he can’t live without it? It is unreasonable to say you are not chipping in because you will end up watching it but what about saying you will buy the Blueray disc player to go along with it? You are contributing but since it is not a priority for you to have the huge 54” screen in your living room, you are not paying more then you are willing to spend.
Moving in together means that private matters are no longer private. Can you talk to him about any medical problems and does he understand that for one or two days a month, you are an emotional basket case?
Can you try living together for a month in one of your homes before leasing a place together? Try to make it as real as possible and don’t run away to your house at the first sign of a spat. Stick it out and work it through, soon you will have no option but to do just that.
Making quality time for each other is even more important when living together then when you were dating. You may spend more time in each other’s company under one roof but it doesn’t mean it is all good time. Exercise together in the mornings, enjoy a glass of wine and decompress together after work, have a once a week date night even if that date is renting a movie and hanging on the couch together.
Not sure whether you can live with each other? Go away together for a week first then and see how that goes. And not to an all-inclusive party place either – road trips are the best test for a relationship. Vacations are fun, yes, but they are also stressful and each day throws decisions and compromises at you both that will make communication necessary.
One thing that new couples do not do but should is spend some time with a financial planner. Money and finances are the number one relationship killer so why not deal with it at the beginning? A financial planner will help you develop a budget, understand each other’s priorities when it comes to money and will help you plan for upcoming expenses such as a wedding, buying a house and retirement. If the money is figured out ahead of time in an intelligent and organized way with the help of someone who understands both of your needs and desires, many of the potential arguments are diffused before they even begin to smolder.
Living together is a bit step in a relationship and should not be entered into lightly. What your four T’s – talk things through, take time together, touch and build trust in each other.