There are a number of theories swirling around out there about whether or not shacking up with a partner before marriage is helpful or harmful to the long term potential of the relationship. Some experts believe that couples who live together before tying the knot face a higher risk of divorce while others claim that just the opposite is true. Personally, I think skyrocketing divorce rates have less to do with cohabitation and far more to do with compatibility or lack thereof. Sometimes it takes sharing a living space with somebody to realize that perhaps you are not nearly as compatible as you may have hoped. Where cohabitating couples tend to go wrong is that they often fall into comfortable routines that they mistake for love and compatibility so rather than end the relationship and find a more compatible partner, many couples who have lived together for some time feel that the only logical thing to do is take it to the next level by getting married or making joint investments in property, pets or children, which of course only serves to compound the problem.
One of the best things that cohabitating couples can do to make the most out of their living arrangements is to be aware of the common obstacles that they are likely to face and develop a game plan for how they will successfully overcome those obstacles together. Most importantly, if things donít work out as planned and the partnership is failing to meet even the most basic of expectations, it is necessary for both parties involved to be realistic about the situation and cut their losses before things begin to get really messy.
Though every situation is different and many unforeseen factors can play a significant role in how things ultimately play out, take a few minutes to review the tips below. While love does not come with any guarantees, there are some things that you can do to improve your chances of successfully cohabitating with a romantic partner.
- Set boundaries - It is absolutely necessary to sit down with your partner before moving in together and openly detail any and all boundaries that you can think of. Make sure that each is well aware of and in agreement with the expectations that the other has with regard to things like privacy and cleanliness, etc. Be familiar with each otherís deal breakers and make a genuine effort to avoid stepping on each otherís toes. Also, be sure to always mind your manners and be courteous to your partner.
- Compromise - There is nothing more effective at keeping the peace than compromise. When two unique individuals merge and attempt to establish common ground under one roof, there is bound to be some disagreement over even the most trivial of things. Choose your battles wisely and learn how to compromise with your partner so that the overall ambiance of the home reflects an equal blending of both tastes and personalities. Let your partner have his/her way some of the time and insist that he/she do the same for you every once in a while. Living and loving together is all about finding the right balance where each half represents a unique part of the whole.
- Communicate - I cannot stress enough the importance of communication. Talk openly, honestly, and frequently with your partner about the things that matter most to your relationship and the household. Be familiar with each otherís pet peeves and be respectful of each otherís wants and needs. If conflicts arise, address them head on and without hesitation. Keep in mind that the biggest problems usually start out as minor annoyances that fail to be properly addressed. Resist the urge to hold things in and instead, open up to your partner and commit yourself to working through any potential issues together.
- Sharing is caring - Last but certainly not least, it is absolutely imperative to be fair in the division of household duties. Living together and being in a relationship are both reflections of a partnership at work and therefore, both partners need to do their part in order to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. Decide ahead of time which partner will be in charge of what chore (cleaning, laundry, cooking, bill paying, etc.) and be sure to keep up with your responsibilities. When possible, help each other out and recognize that each of you plays an important role in managing the daily operations of the home.