You’ve been leaving your toothbrush at their place for the last year. Or maybe they’ve taken over a drawer or two at your pad. A new study finds that living together is basically the same as marriage, and there’s no mathematical equation as to when you should take that romantic relationship to the next level. But, yes, committing to this relationship milestone is kind of a big deal. It’s okay. Breathe – we’ve got your back. Here are the top five things to consider before you commit to cohabitate!
Make sure you’re moving in together for the right reasons
Maybe their apartment building is closer to your workplace. Cool. But that doesn’t necessarily suffice as evidence for the right reason to be moving in together. When thinking about cohabiting, it’s all about the feelings you have for one another says Robert Solley, Ph.D, a San Francisco clinical psychologist specializing in couples therapy. Moving in together for the wrong reasons can be disastrous, so try not to make that mistake. It’s pretty straightforward when you think about it: you want to take the next step in your relationship together and now seems like the best time. Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, agrees, saying, “I don’t think the situation should make the decision.” What should, she says, is “your relationship, how you work as a couple, how you feel about one another and how committed you are to each other.”
Let’s talk about money for a minute
Oh that little green monster that is said to be the root cause of all evil. When it comes to money, there are definitely a few things you should take the time to discuss and decide. How will rent and bills be divided fairly if one of you makes more? Make sure you define exactly who will be paying for what before you pack up your entire place. “All couples, regardless of age or length of relationship, should discuss joint finances explicitly before moving in together to prevent serious legal complications if the relationship ends,” Kate Ryan, a wealth management adviser at TIAA says. Although it’s fair to say that your love and newfound living arrangement might last forever, it’s important to protect yourself and that hard-earned cash.
Make sure you spend QUALITY time together
You’re busy. You’re stressed. You feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions. Snuggling up on the couch with some popcorn and Netflix on the regular sounds pretty tempting…but do make sure to challenge yourselves and explore the world together too. Spend Saturday morning doing couples yoga, sign up for a sign language class, or do something crazy adventurous like bungee jumping. Don’t fall into the habit of simply seeing each other only to coordinate everyday tasks.
But don’t forget to make time for yourself too
I know we’ve just established that spending time together is elemental, but that doesn’t mean you should be completely joined at the hip. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that couples who spend the most time tending to their own preferred leisure activities are usually the happiest. Try to ensure that you get time to yourself – go out with your own friends, hit up that neighborhood spin class, or simply spend time alone in another nook of the house. Just remember not to lose sight of who you are as an individual.
Wedding planner Beth Sharb claims that nearly all of her clients live together before they get married. In this day and age, it seems to be pretty inevitable. With our top five tips you can now be totally prepared… and excited. But it’s okay to be nervous too. “You’re going to have to adjust to a new human being’s routines, flaws, and idiosyncrasies – it can be both exciting and anxiety-provoking,” reassures Sharb. If all else fails, just try and remember the reason that you moved in together in the first place – love. That should be enough to conquer whatever comes your way.