According to the Australian marriages registered in 2017, almost 80% of couples lived together before they got married. Cohabitation, the act of living together without formalizing the relationship, is indeed the moving trend when it comes to Millennials and Gen Zers. For sociologist Eva Cox, it’s a sign that the social stigma related to sharing a house outside of the wedlocks has long disappeared. Modern generations are a lot more practical and matter of fact, when it comes to their relationships. Moving in together is, for many, the trial before the marriage. Interestingly enough, marriage and divorce statistics also prove them right.
Couples who have spent time together under the same roof before deciding to pop the question are less likely to encounter coping issues and complicated arguments at the beginning of their marriage. More importantly, they tend to stay together – while couples who choose to wait until after the wedding to move in together have a higher risk of separation.
However, moving in together is typically perceived as a long-term commitment to the relationship.
As a result, it’s not a decision to take lightly or too shortly after the start of the relationship. As time-efficient as it might seem for the relationship – you don’t need to carry a bag with your clothes and toiletries for the night anymore –, you can’t afford to slide into cohabitation without mutual agreement. The real question you need to ask yourself is whether you are both ready for it. Failure to do so could mark the end of your love story!
Don’t trust the butterflies
He’s the one. You know it. You can feel it in your heart.
Well, it’s a lovely feeling, but you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself. It’s easy to let the excitement of the first months hide the reality of the situation. You might be sure you want to spend more time with him, but how can you tell if he feels the same? The first clue you can get is to figure out whether he is entirely exclusive.
Indeed, if you’re still in the early dating stage, he might already exhibit behavioural patterns that can give you the answer to the difficult question. For instance, if he’s still using the dating site you met through, it’s clear that he’s still looking for “a better opportunity”. You can also choose to bring up the subject more openly and discuss exclusivity directly. However, ultimately, if you feel the need to ask the question, you should already have your answer. A partner who wants you and no-one else makes it known clearly at the start of the relationship.
Don’t force the move
Just because you’re ready to move the relationship to the next level doesn’t mean he is. Your partner and yourself need time to establish boundaries and know each other. In other words, you need to test the relationship before moving in together. Indeed, if you haven’t had your first big fight yet, chances are you should stick around a little longer before considering looking for a rental for the both of you.
Having an argument is revealing. It highlights how someone handles a problematic conversion and reacts to conflicted emotions. If you can solve the dispute together, you can be sure that you will manage disagreements in your everyday life together positively. However, if the conflict ends in crisis and one of you has to cave in to keep the other happy, you may not be on a path to a harmonious couple life.
Don’t make big decisions without clarity
Does it need saying? If you’re not sure about moving in together, buying a property together may be the last thing you want to do now. However, you’d be surprised to know that many couples choose to combine their finances to purchase their first property at an early stage of their relationship. Indeed, it’s fair to say that during the first months of the relationship, your brain releases dopamine and increases the production of oxytocin, the love hormone.
As you feel a surge of positive emotion, you might be more likely to trust your partner and take big decisions a little too lightly. As a result, many unmarried couples can embark on the journey of homeownership without having made sure they were ready to live together and share household duties. However, before you explore the Internet for the best online mortgage platform for your finances, it’s a good idea to discuss risks. You may not want to think about it, but what happens if you split up? Sorting out a pre-purchase contract can help you to clarify things and protect yourself.
Are you willing to make an effort?
You may not need to worry about finding a rental suitable for both of you if you struggle to make room for your bae in your current home. Indeed, nobody enjoys carrying a travel bag each time they want to spend the night with their darling.
However, if you’re going to make him feel at home, you need to be ready to declutter your bedroom and bathroom for him. Don’t think in terms of freeing up one drawer for him. One drawer in your wardrobe and half a shelf in the bathroom cabinet are just enough to make him feel like a regular guest. If you are to move in together, you need to be ready to give him half of your storage space. In other words, you might have to drastically change your habits and get rid of some clutter you’ve accumulated over the years.
Be organized to keep things smooth
Living together demands highly organized skills. When you both need to leave the house in the morning to get to work on time, you have to schedule your bathroom arrangements. While it might sound silly, you have to decide on who is going to use the bathroom first and what are the privacy rules to respect.
Ultimately, compromises need to be made, but they are essential to a happy cohabitation. Additionally, your day-to-day routine might differ. Simple things, such as going to bed, can become a nightmare when you share your living space with someone who doesn’t understand your lifestyle preferences. Is he an early riser while you’re a night owl? Discussing your preferences and finding the best solution for both of you is vital to the future of your relationship.
Are you happy to create time together?
Moving in together is a lot more than figuring out the best way of making your different lifestyles work without too much compromising or sacrifice. The key to living together is to create time to cultivate togetherness. You need to have healthy bonding activities with your partner. Taking up sports classes together can be an option at an early stage of your relationship. However, when you choose to share the same home, you have to look for shared activities under your roof too. Cooking is the most fantastic thing couples can do together. Not only can it strengthen your relationship, but it’s also a fantastic way of understanding each other. So are you ready to share the kitchen with boo?
Hitting the sweet spot between self-reliance and togetherness
There’s a tricky balance between maintaining your independence and wanting to be together. Ultimately, while you may be used to doing things on your own, if you’re too independent, you don’t allow the relationship to grow. However, you can’t afford to let your happiness depend entirely on your partner. Many couples struggle to find the right approach between independence and connection. In the process of moving in together, you need to be honest with yourself. On the one hand, you have to recognize that you are not alone anymore. Therefore, while you can still plan some me time, you should keep your partner in the loop. On the other hand, you should also learn to respect his alone time and not expect him to satisfy all your emotional needs.
Understand that it is a shared project
Ideally, if you choose to move in together, you should, whenever possible, favour a new rental rather than moving into your partner’s place – or he into yours. When you start from scratch, you can consider your interior style as a shared project. Indeed, being able to create a space where both of you feel at home is the most challenging obstacle of cohabitation. You probably love different things, and therefore, your indoor style is likely to be an eclectic combination of your tastes and ideas. Typically, you need to be open to new opinions and blend your different tastes into something new and exciting. It’s a tricky learning process as it involves setting a budget limit, agreeing on your common ground, and defining your acceptance level. If you’re unsure how it’s going to work, you can trial your teamwork ability with a joint project, such as decorating a cake. If you can work your way through compromising, finding shared elements and having fun, you’re ready for a home decor design.
Moving in together is a big step in the relationship. However, it can bring your couple closer together if you’re both in a place where you are ready to compromise on what needs to be done, agree on essentials, and build respectful and caring foundations for your love day after day.
It involves a handful of unpleasant conversations and arguments, but it’s the only way of knowing if cohabitation is the best solution for you.