Relationship Ramblings

The Decision to Cohabitate

When my ex-live-in asked if I wanted to move in with him, it wasn’t exactly a romantic proposal.

“You’re already here a couple of days a week,” he said. “We pay two mortgages/rent, electric bills, gas bills, water bills. Wouldn’t it make sense if you moved in?”

I thought hard about it. Yes, I was at his house a couple of days a week. I enjoyed being with him. He had a gorgeous house. But I also thought hard about things I’d be giving up. I liked my autonomy. I’d have to sell off some furniture we wouldn’t have room for that I really liked. I’d have a 25-minute drive to work each day instead of five. I’d be farther from my kids’ school, work, and social lives.

I eventually agreed. The first year together was like a honeymoon, and then the problems started. We had differences in our parenting styles with our kids. He was financially irresponsible, not just with his money, but also with mine. I also caught him cheating or trying to cheat on me more than once.

I’m not saying that the decision to “play house”, as my parents put it, is a bad one. Both of my sons lived with their girlfriends for a couple of years before they got married. Although one year of wedded bliss really isn’t a measure of success, I’ve given some thought about some things to consider before moving in with your significant other.

Moving in with each other will change the dynamics of your relationship. It’s all fun and games until you have to decide who takes out the garbage and does the dishes. Splitting up the chores can lessen the burden on your life. It can also add stress if one of you doesn’t hold up your end of the deal or if one partner has different expectations of what is clean and organized.

Will you have time for yourself? In my opinion, having time for yourself is just as important as spending time together. Having “me” time to pursue hobbies, enjoy friends on each other’s time, or just having time to chill or read a book makes us more interesting people to each other. Will it be possible to find that balance when you live together?

What are your expectations to do things together? If you’re a couple between the sheets, are you a couple that spends time with each other’s family and friends, especially during holidays? Do one or both of you have expectations of doing everything together like going grocery shopping?

Will things, particularly sex, get boring? For many people, familiarity breeds boredom. Sometimes absence makes the heart – and libido – grow fonder. At the same time, having immediate access to your significant other can be a huge perk.

What are your long-term goals for your relationship? Are you moving in together for financial, pragmatic or romantic reasons? Is marriage something you’re eventually considering? Being on the same page about where you want things to go one, two or 10 years into the future is something you really want to talk about honestly. Never assume that you’ll get your significant other to see the “benefits” of seeing things your way. In short, if you’re not on the same page, don’t move in together.

How will you handle finances? Even if you keep separate bank accounts, which I recommend for a variety of legal reasons, can you agree on how you’ll cover your living and personal expenses? How will you handle large expenses like buying cars and furniture? If things end in a breakup and moving out, deciding who gets what may get a lot more complicated than they do with married couples.

How will you handle each other’s kids? Do one or both of you have kids? The No. 1 thing you have to agree on is having similar parenting styles. One of the biggest stressors in a relationship is when one set of kids gets treated differently than the other set. That can be a stress, not to mention unfair, to the kids, too. Get the kids together on a few occasions to see if they all get along.