We are all at that age; in addition to the countless engagement announcements, another “M” word has entered the vocabulary of young professional couples across the country: moving in. Thankfully, YPs aren’t taking this decision lightly. After all, living with your significant other (SO) after the age of 25 takes on a different meaning than living with your university boyfriend or girlfriend in 4th year prior to the entering the “real world” and the inevitable breakup. Yes, you may be tired of living out of a drawer at your SO’s place and the glances from your coworkers when you show up yet another morning with your overnight bag, but there are a few crucial things to consider before taking the plunge.
So many times, YP couples decide to move in together because they see it as the next natural step in their relationship or they feel the pressure of their parents, actions of their friends or timelines. The problem is that many not be ready for it and will only realize this once it is too late and the relationship is beyond repair. After all, how many couples do you know who started living together, then took a step back and lived apart and it actually worked out? Some relationships will never be ready for the cohabitation phase and with good reason. Here are some things to consider…
Are you Ready?
Practically living together anyway
Are you spending most or all of your free time at eachothers' homes already? If you don’t remember the last time you slept alone, your closet is perpetually half full because half of your wardrobe is at the other person’s house. Chances are you are already “playing house” already and have a good sense of what the other would be to live with including habits, bad hair days and guilty pleasures. Moving in with your SO should feel like a natural transition, not like something forced.
You travel effortlessly together
If you have been on week-long vacations with your SO whereby you see the good, bad and ugly of the other person in the 24/7 timeframe you spend with them and return home in withdrawal (as opposed to repulsed, annoyed or needing your own space), this is a good indication that you are ready.
The decision is not for financial reasons alone
No matter how amazing the place you could afford would be with both of you splitting the rent or mortgage, if financial reasons are the driving factor, you need to re-evaluate the situation.
You effectively manage conflicts
It’s important that you have experience resolving conflicts within your relationship before you moving in together and that your relationship is beyond the “honeymoon stage.” In any relationship, fights happen and they will likely happen even more so once you move in, but you won’t be able to slam the door and go home to cool off. Living together is all about compromise, so if you are currently able to address and resolve problems, there is a good chance that you’ll be able to continue to work through problems while sharing a living space.
You aren’t moving in together to solve your problems.
Moving in together is not going to provide a quick fix to pre-existing problems, so don’t kid yourself that it will. On the contrary, the issues, conflicts and bickering will become worse than ever instead of better.
If you have assessed the situation and have decided cohabitation is the right step, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind...
Discuss finances and division of labour
Every day chores and balancing domestic and professional responsibilities can create conflict and burden you both with stress. It is important to decide who is responsible for virtually every task involved in maintaining your household.
Avoid tunnel (of love) vision
There is a lot of work to accomplish when setting up home with another and it is easy to get caught up in it all. After all, it is an exciting time. It is very important not to let that consume you. Couples who focus completely on each other may become too dependent on one another and may sacrifice other relationships with friends and family and give up personal outlets in the process. Just like you used to set aside "date nights,” it becomes important to set aside "alone time" where you can each do your own thing.
Don't rush into splitting everything financially right away
Although it may seem pessimistic, it is important to discuss who will take what if the relationship dissolves and who owns what. Sit down and have a talk about who would take what if it ends. Instead of splitting the cost of a new bed, for example, consider one person buying the bed and the other buying the patio set.