"What are you doing, you madwoman, you're wrecking my apartment!" - Hugh Grant as Alex Fletcher in Music & Lyrics
Did you know that there was a report called "State of Our Unions"? We didn't! After having a rather intense conversation (ok, it was more like a heated debate) with some conservative parents about the topic of "living in sin," we decided to do a bit of research to see if the common belief that moving in together pre-marriage actually contributed to our extremely high divorce rate. In 2007, a report by the the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University stated that "over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago." Sounds about right to us......In this day and age, it feels like it's more of a rarity for couples NOT to move in together before swapping vows. However, despite the logic behind moving in together ("Isn't it better to know beforehand if we live well together?"; "Don't buy the car before taking it for a test drive!"), it doesn't necessarily guarantee success. According to yet another report by the Centers for Disease Control, about half of all couples that move in together end up separating within five years (thus supporting our parents' reasoning of, "Why buy the cow when the milk's so cheap?").
So, we've pulled together a few tips from friends, family, and the internet on the tips on how to combat a few pitfalls of cohabitation:
1. Make sure you're both on the same page before you move in together. If one party believes that it's "taking the relationship to the next level" and the other party thinks it's a great way to save money, chances are that the the relationship might not make it beyond that five year mark.
2. Figure out what goes and what stays. Based on your space constraints, it's important sort out the necessities and get rid of duplicates. However, if you have sentimental items (like that wagon wheel coffee table), one way to avoid arguments is to set a limit for these special cases.
3. Respect your significant other's quirks. This could be picking up tea bags that stain, putting away shoes from the entryway, or positioning the toilet paper in the right direction.
4. Be meticulous about money. Frederick Hertz, co-author of Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, says, "If you're doing any significant purchase or credit where you can't afford to just walk away from it if your lover turns out to be a total sociopath, then have a written agreement." Good to know. Also good to know? If you buy an apartment together, make sure the title reflects both shares of the financial contribution.
5. So what happens if you've been living together and one person is supporting the other, be it grad school, a lull in the career, etc.--and the relationship ends? Lee Richey, a marriage therapist, advises that there should be no expectation of payback or strings attached. "If you don't feel completely comfortable supporting your loved one, then don't start."
Got your own pros, cons, and tips on living with your significant other? Share it with us in the comments...