More Americans are choosing to cohabitate with their partners and delay marriage. Between 1990 and 2007, the number of unmarried partners who were living together increased by 88% (CPS, 2007). While the thought of moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend can be exciting, there are some crucial things to consider before taking the plunge.
Understanding and Delegating Financial Responsibilities
Before solidifying plans to move in together, it’s important to discuss and establish financial plans to set yourselves up for success. Living with a significant other is not living with a roommate. Suddenly, your weekends and evenings partner becomes someone that you share basic necessity needs with, like rent and food. Talk about what you can realistically afford, and how you will divide expenses. And if one or both of you have debt, it’s important to confront those issues as well so there are no surprises. One solution recommended by financial experts Sheryl Garrett and Debra Neiman is to draw up a roommate prenup. While not exactly the most romantic paperwork to have your partner sign-off on, it could help prevent some headaches down the line. As Garrett and Neiman describe, the roommate prenup is a proclamation that, “your relationship is important and valid enough that you’re willing to put in writing your rights, responsibilities and obligations to that relationship”. The pressure and strain of financial trouble is one of the toughest to overcome with your partner, but with open and honest communication about expenses, you can avoid feeling taken advantage of or hounded financially.
One of the biggest causes of friction when sharing a space revolves around the division of housework and what it will entail. Once again, communication is key One person’s definition of “clean” may be a roughly made bed and a pile of clothes shoved in the corner. The other partner’s definition may be dusted bookshelves and spiny, spotless floors. This being said, the process will require compromise (like most things do in relationships) and also taking responsibility for some “over the top” or OCD. If one partner prefers to take care of all the dishes and household cleaning while the other likes to do the grocery shopping, split it that way. The important thing is to list the duties that are most important to each significant other, decide on a frequency, make a note on the calendar and tackle it head on. Don’t be afraid to be flexible and mix up the strategies for getting household chores covered until you find a system that works for both of you.
Once the honeymoon phase is over, it’s important that you realize the importance of taking your own time apart to cultivate friendships or take personal time to do the things that you love alone. Too often couples neglect their own personal time or social circles. Rent.com’s consumer insights reported recently that 63% of couples living together rarely (if ever), have a night out with just their friends. Just because you’ve room-ied up with your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t mean you have to give up those much needed girl’s night out. Before moving in together, take the time to discuss these things and grant yourself time to go out with your friends. Studies show that couples have healthier, lasting relationships when they take time apart. In the long run, it will definitely makes you appreciate each other more with some time apart. Healthy relationships are a result of trust, love and balance.