Back in the late Sixties, my parents were shocked that my college boyfriend Dizzy and I were living together in a garden apartment after graduation. Today, couples of all ages set up joint households without exchanging vows, and few people think anything of it.
According to a 2007 report by the National Marriage Project, "Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago."
But living together doesn't guarantee success. In fact, about half of all couples that move in together end up separating within five years.
The number of couples living together has doubled over the last decade. Given that there are few legal protections for them, unmarried couples might want to build their own safety nets.
Whether you are contemplating living with a partner or your grown children have live-in mates, here are relationship tips from those who have done so with and without success. It wouldn't hurt married couples to listen up as well.
- Discuss and define expected household roles, sleep schedules, financial obligations (down to who pays for the take out pizza to who pays the water bill); discuss and define who gets what of combined household items if you split.....you get where I am going ...discuss and define EVERYTHING!"
- I would say: make sure you have your own physical space: A retreat dedicated to yourself so you can be reminded of your independence.
- If you're ready to set up a bank account together, move in together. And when you do, enjoy it!! It's like a sleepover every night with your best friend. And when you get annoyed with each other, make sure you have wonderful group of friends and a developed sense of interests to go play with and run to. And also, throw out...everything. It's amazing that moving someone into your space can make you feel like you have more room than you did without them.
- My first piece of advice is DON'T. Or at least start by spending 5 nights a week together while still having your own apartments, to make sure moving in is the right decision.
- The biggest surprise: It is really nice to have someone to eat all your meals with and plan your meals around. It is nice to have someone who is helpful around the house (if your partner is).
- Tips for making it work: Don't let things fester. What I mean by that is, if something is annoying you, make sure to address it (and try to do so in a calm, non-aggressive manner). If you let things just build up, you'll end up having fights, which could have been nipped in the bud.
- I've done it a few times, but I don't think it's smart. My boyfriend and I live together now, have been together for over two years and we are still not engaged. I am 32 and he is 31. I think it gives credit to the old adage, "Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free." My married friends say it doesn't feel any different being married once you have lived together. I want to be excited about that part, of creating a life with someone and not just being fortunate roommates. :)
- If you're thinking of moving in with your partner, you should probably just look at your big snazzy closet and then kiss it goodbye...
- Give each other physical and mental space (me time) AND make sure there is a couple time too (no laptop, iphone...). This may change when we have kids, or if we have money issues, but we'll do whatever we can to prevent that from happening.
- Be prepared to be irritated by a lot of little things.
- b4 moving in w/ some1, spend a weekend w/their parents, preferably in their childhood home. Experience what is "normal" to them
- Absolutely do it before you get married; find out before it gets way more complicated. Those cute characteristics become annoying.
- And talk about all those big picture down-the-road things like kids. And not just whether or not to have kids, but how to raise them. Lastly, be realistic.
- Make sure ahead of time she knows getting nails and hair done is NOT a need on the budget ledger
- He should be aware that getting hair and nails is on her budget needs list, well before moving in together. Should be pretty obvious, I'd say...
- When an argument erupts, share a drink first.
- Buy two TV's!
See my post with thoughts about sex and more for couples living together: Men Speak Out with Tips for Living Together.
Also see links to more relationship articles, as well as to my blog Confessions of a Worrywart, where you can read the story of Dizzy, Living Together ca. 1967.