Plan Carefully Before Shacking Up

Plan Carefully Before Shacking Up
Couple moves in. Photo: Ambro. (Posed by models.)

By Gina B.

I've known several couples who have fallen into what I call Circumstantial Shacking.  

I've done it, and I've vowed never to do it again.  

There are several seemingly rational reasons for cohabitation:

  • We're together every day - we might as well live together.
  • I'm sick of traveling back and forth to his house with my thong in my purse.
  • I'm never home anymore!  We're wasting money on rent.
  • If we move in together, we can get a bigger and better place.
  • This will be the test of our relationship - a trial marriage of sorts.
  • Live-in sex!!  What's not to like about that?

So, they make the decision to take the plunge.  There are plenty of details to work out.  Who will move in with whom?  When?  Is the plan to eventually get married, or live together indefinitely before making a decision?

Or, for certain couples, there is no discussion.  One of them looks up and realizes that the entirety of the other's belongings have been moved in.  

We all know the tune.   It goes a little something like this:

His lease is up and she haphazardly extends an offer for him to move in with her "for the time being."  

He puts his furniture in storage, although the monthly storage fees were probably greater than the value of his furnishings, and moves into her house with just his clothes and XBox.  

As he rearranges her home to suit his comfort, she realizes that she's made a big mistake.

She has learned a few things about her man.  To sum it up, he is lazy and messy.  If he could, he would sleep every day until noon. And it perplexes her that one person can turn a bathroom into a bacterial block party and personal petri dish!  

Why didn't she notice any of this before?

From his perspective, she is a nagging control freak who wants to change him.  He doesn't remember her being so much of a neat freak before he moved in.  That black stuff in the shower is just harmless dirt, not mold, and WHY is she so concerned about his sleeping habits?

How had his sweet girlfriend turned into a raging bitch?

This living arrangement has a short shelf life, and the relationship will likely end on the day that his clothes are removed from her closet.

Some people think of cohabitation as Marriage Lite, even though statistics show that couples who live together before marriage have a higher chance of divorce.  

When a couple lives together, there's a safety net.  If it doesn't work, someone an always move out.  In marriage, there's more of a reason to work it out.  Spiritual and legal vows were taken in front of family and friends (or Elvis, depending on your wedding circumstances), after which you had a large expensive celebration of your love and commitment.  

Whether or not marriage seems to be more serious, it is definitely more serious.

The couples that I've known to have had successful cohabitation relationships suggest following these guidelines:

  • Move in together for the right reasons.  Do it because you want to be with the person, not because you'll save money. (In fact, if you find yourself saying "I might as well" when referring to either moving in or marriage, it's time to rethink your decision.)
  • Openly discuss finances and credit ratings.  Determine what you can afford together and how it will be paid for.  If necessary, put it in writing.
  • Move into a new place and make it your home together.
  • Discuss the direction of your relationship and make sure you're on the same page about your future.  Do you both think you're working toward marriage, or do you agree that a relationship doesn't need to be legalized in order to be strong?
  • Treat your situation seriously.  Don't threaten to move out after each argument.

Follow Gina B. on Twitter @GinaSpot

Follow Gina B. on Twitter @GinaSpot

The thing to remember is that living together should be about furthering your relationship and taking steps toward the future.  If you just want a roommate to share expenses, you're much better off answering an ad in Craig's List.

If you've ever lived with your mate, what was your experience?  Did you keep shacking?  Or send 'em packing?

XO,
Gina B

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