Cohabiting: Are you ready?

Couples who wish to move their relationship forward may decide moving in together is their next step. Cohabitation has quickly become the new stepping stone before marriage. Nearly eight million opposite-sex couples live together today, compared to less than one million thirty years ago. Nearly ten percent of all opposite-sex couples are cohabiting, and over half of all first marriages are preceded by a period of cohabitation.

It allows two individuals to learn whether or not they can live together, by sharing all the realities of a marriage without the expensive ceremony. Research has proven that the top reasons for cohabiting are to spend a greater amount of time together, sharing expenses, and evaluating compatibility before marriage or children. While others may believe that cohabitation inhibits the relationship because it is not a real commitment, I firmly believe that it strengthens both individuals and the relationship.

  • Can both of you work together as a team to keep house and pay bills?
  • Bad habits you might find irritating about one another.
  • An appreciation for personal alone time.
  • How much are you willing to work at your relationship?

The first few months of Cohabitation is usually like the beginning of a new relationship. You’re accepting of the changes occurring, and willing to try new things. However, you are holding back the little annoyances that are appearing with in the relationship. By holding back how you really feel creates animosity among newly cohabitant couples. This could in turn create resentment and thus dissolve the relationship.

To avoid this you need to remember a few things:

Pick Your Battles

If you ask him to take out the trash, but he’s watching the game or playing his XBOX. Give it time, or specifically ask for him to please do it after what he is doing. While to you it seems pointless and stupid, to him it’s important. It is not an immediate necessity that must be done or the house will fall apart, so be patient. By nagging him or yelling, will only cause more of a problem between the two of you. A relationship while a choice, is also a job. You must be willing to put in the work to create something you both can be proud of.

Communicate

TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT EVERYTHING!!! Nothing is too small a problem. Don’t be uninvolved with each other’s days, even if you weren’t a part of it until that evening. Communication is one of those things that everyone says is part of any good relationship, and they aren’t wrong. By talking about the little things helps avoid the bigger instances of a relationship that may occur. For instance when she comes home upset over her day at work or school- listen- don’t try to fix it. She doesn’t want that. She just wants someone to vent to who was not involved in the situation.

Continue Your Hobbies

There is no reason to stop doing the things you love because you moved in together. If you go to the gym, get coffee every Sunday with your friends, or play video games after work to wind down. Keep doing them because it keeps your sense of identity alive. Time apart from your spouse even if it is just in separate rooms, allows you to grow separately and together. This give you topics to discuss and new ideas to bring in to your relationship.

Share The House Hold Duties

Discuss the chores you like and dislike. For instance I hate cleaning the bathroom and he hates doing the dishes. So instead of both of us doing the chore we resent, I do the dishes and he cleans the bathroom. This helps both of us keep our sanity while we clean. It may not always be a 50/50 sharing of the chores, but what many new cohabitants need to know is that it’s ok. One month he may do more and another it may be you. That only means you two have other responsibilities that needed your attention. Picking up the work that may be your spouse’s responsibility does not mean that the person is better in the relationship than the other.

Which brings me to my last “Must Do” in a cohabiting relationship

Do NOT Keep Score

While one of you may make more money, may cook dinner every night or get the kids up. This doesn’t mean it needs to be tallied up on a score sheet and thrown in the others face when mad. This is not your kill count men. Appreciate what is done for you and what you do for your spouse. If you did the dishes because she picked up an extra shift and forgot, do not take it as a free pass or a time to gloat. You live there and created the mess too. You are both equals in this relationship. As so, you must remember to not hold things over each other and make the other feel inadequate. When that begins it causes doubt and thoughts of being unappreciated for everything else the other person may have done for you.

Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on Relationship Quality: An Eight-Year Prospective Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 601–619. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0013969

Huang, P. M., Smock, P. J., Manning, W. D., & Bergstrom-Lynch, C. A. (2011). He Says, She Says: Gender and Cohabitation. Journal of Family Issues, 32(7), 876–905. http://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X10397601

Manning, W. D., Cohen, J. A., & Smock, P. J. (2011). The Role of Romantic Partners, Family and Peer Networks in Dating Couples’ Views about Cohabitation. Journal of Adolescent Research, 26(1), 115–149. http://doi.org/10.1177/0743558410376833