You’re madly in love and ready to take your relationship to the next level – so moving in together seems like the next best thing, right?
There are plenty of good reasons why this makes sense – no need to rush home after spending time with your partner, security, financial stability and money saved by sharing expenses. It’ll be just like you’re married, but without the hassle of paperwork and a costly wedding ceremony.
Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? Before you move in together, take a moment and consider the implications. This is a huge step, after all. For one, there is no formal commitment here, and if your partner is already a commitment-phobe, the comfort of living together might mean waiting in vain for a proposal.
Perhaps you’d like to get married some day and you want to first determine if you’re compatible. Living together can be a natural progression to marriage, says Judy Ramsden, head of counselling at The Family Life Centre in Parkview.
“It can give a couple the chance to get to know each other better after the excitement of the first few months together,” she says. “What’s needed is honesty about a clear dedication to each other with a view to marriage.” Saying aloud that you expect marriage in the long-term is better than keeping it at the back of your mind and hoping it will happen.
It could also save you lots of heartache in the end. As unromantic as it might seem to place your cards on the table when you think of moving in with someone, a frank discussion beforehand will benefit both partners.
Before you decide to move in with your partner, make sure you both have given it enough thought and discussed it thoroughly.
Things to discuss before moving in together
Trust in a relationship is very important and will set the tone for how the couple treats each other, Judy says.
“Each partner should always think and ask themselves: ‘Will what I’m going to do hurt my partner?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, then you shouldn’t do it,” she adds. Also discuss the following openly and say what you’re not comfortable with:
Commitment to the relationship.
Be honest about your long-term investment in the relationship. “Make it clear from the start if you’re not ready to get married.
This kind of openness will prevent unrealistic expectations and heartache further down the line. It also gives your partner the chance to opt out of the relationship,” adds Judy.
The lack of a wedding ring doesn’t mean there is freedom to pursue other people. “Not chasing after others shows devotion to your partner and looking after their best interests,” Judy says.
Where are you going to live?
Whose place are you going to live in or will you choose a “neutral” ground and find a new one together?
The partner who is moving is likely to want to keep some of his or her stuff. Make an inventory of who owns what and who buys whatever new furniture or appliances you get. Be sure to keep the slips to prove what you paid for.
Expectations of your roles
Who is going to do what in terms of taking care of the household? Don’t assume what your partner’s needs or wants are and what they’re not prepared to do. Failure to discuss these issues could lead to resentment later.
Express your views on children
If there are already children involved, you should agree on how you will take care of and provide for them.
Are you going to keep separate accounts or pool your money in a joint account for your household?
Set out what your income is, the debt you have and what your financial responsibilities are. Decide on who is in charge of the finances and making sure bills are paid.
“A decision to open up a clothing account, getting a credit card or buying a car has implications for both partners,” Judy advises.
Have a valid will
This will avoid disputes with your partner’s family in the event of one of you passing away. Making provision for your partner in your will shows a high level of commitment. It’s important not to leave your grieving partner in the lurch and in a situation where they will have to fight over what you’ve accumulated in your time together.