Many couples believe it's a good idea to give marriage a test-drive by moving in together.
Cohabitation has become a dating norm, the step in between getting serious and getting married. In fact, many couples are cohabiting and delaying marriage altogether. Recent statistics from both the United States and Great Britain show that men and women are getting married later than ever before (the average age for a bride is now 28 to 31 years of age, and for a groom it is 29 to 33).
If you’re thinking about moving in together, there are some important points to consider:
Don’t assume wedding bells are in your future. While many couples see cohabitation as the next step before marriage, you might be disappointed if you wrongly assume that your partner has the same expectations. If you are hoping for marriage or a more solid commitment, you need to make that known upfront, as your partner might have very different ideas about where your relationship is headed.
Obey the unwritten rules. The way you conduct yourself as a roommate is quite telling. You have a responsibility to clean up after yourself and pitch in around the house. For example, if your partner cooks dinner for you, offer to help load the dishwasher or return the favor the next night. Just because you aren’t married doesn’t mean you are not a team, so slacking off on the household chores could be very problematic.
Don’t live together for the wrong reasons. What are the wrong reasons? Well, anything other than a simple desire to be close with your partner and share a living space. If you are looking to save money, escape a bad apartment, or force some type of commitment from your partner, then you are moving in for the wrong reasons — and it will likely not end well. Living together is a huge step, and in many ways, it can be even more complicated than marriage because the lines aren’t clearly drawn, so make sure you think about it ahead of time and make the decision for the right reason.
Get a place as a couple. It seems to work out better if couples move into a new place together, rather than one partner moving into the other partner’s place. This is because even the most welcoming and well-meaning partner can’t help but think of it as “his” or “her” place, even after the partner has moved in. It might be hard for him to make room for you or to allow you to make your own decorating decisions, as he can’t let go of the feeling that it is still primarily his place. By the same token, having him move into your place may feel like a space invasion if his style conflicts with the way you’ve set up house. You can avoid this issue entirely by moving into a new place as a couple and decorating as a team.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure to communicate your expectations and desires throughout your relationship. Your partner isn’t a mind reader, so if the stay-over situation ever becomes unpleasant for you, you need to speak up. Remember, your relationship will only be as successful as your communication, regardless of if you are married or if you are just Thursday through Sunday roommates.