Living Together: Is it Always a Good Idea?Jeff Jacobus
Some Questions to Think About before Taking the Plunge
Living together is something that everyone will need to consider at one time in their life or another. Your parents lived together before you were born, and they, most likely, continued to live together through your adolescence and into your formative, teenage years. Your parents' parents also lived together, going through the same trials and tribulations of co-habitation that your parents went through, and that you're also bound to experience whether married or not.
According to studies, living together before marriage can actually be more stressful than sharing a common abode during marriage. Why is this? Well, here's a few underlying reasons: parents will often disapprove of the living situation; financial decisions – who is going to be responsible for what, money-wise; not having a common purpose – why exactly are you living together (what are you trying to accomplish by doing so).
When you break the news to your parents that you're going to be leaving the nest and going out on your own to live in the outside world (well, outside of your parents' home) with a companion of yours, they will often show signs of resistence and trepidation.
This is all completely understandable – afterall, you are their pride and joy, and seeing you finally break away from their parental embrace will leave a void of solemnity and longing. If you are of age, though, the decision is entirely up to you, and although your parents will try and dissuade you, they will come to an agreement and support your decision.
It's best that your parents have already acquainted themselves with your co-habitant, and that they're both congenial with each other, and that they trust that you'll be safe and that you'll be happy with who you're with.
Financially, you'll want to establish a middle-ground between you and your companion. It's a good idea if both of you are required to maintain a job and use the income to split the cost-of-living. If the finances are essentially one-sided, then the relationship and the co-habitation is almost set to be doomed from the get-go.
Figure that the both of you will need to contribute, financially, to groceries, mortage, gas/electric and appliances. This should go without saying, but sometimes one half of the couple can feel overly dependent on the other. Once the financial roles are evenly distributed, and an agreement is made as to who pays for what, it's time to consider the next and final piece of the cohabitation puzzle: having a common purpose/not having a common purpose.
When you're living together, you have to come to a mutual understanding with your companion as to the big “W” - why? Why exactly are you living together. Are you planning on eventually getting married, and you want to experience what it's like to live together – and see exactly how compatible the two of you are – before it's official?
Or did you just become completely infatuated with your significant other and got swept away at the heat of the moment? If you answered yes to the first question – living together in preparation of getting married – then your answer is definitely justifiable, and co-habitation can be a definite learning experience, and allow the two of you to “know the ropes” before you tie the knot.
If you answered yes to the second question, then you might want to re-evaluate your decision. This isn't to say that it's not going to work out, but being of a spontaneous nature, the co-habitation might be a bit rocky, and chances are that it won't last too long. It's always wise for a couple to get to know each other, thoroughly, through dating and other displays of affection before shacking up together.
You don't want to find out that your partner is seeing someone else on the side... but too late (after you've already invested a lot into the venture, to begin with). Not only will this cause the relationship to end, prematurely, but it will also incur a ton of stress for both people in the relationship. So, just make sure that you know why you're living together, and the experience will be much more enjoyable, for the both of you.
Living together usually entails a lifelong commitment, but sidestepping that commitment and justifying the co-habitation under the guise of an “experiment” - whether it's a successful experiment or not – won't fare too well. With that being said, co-habitation should only be considered after marriage, but if you just can't wait, then make sure you've weighed the pros and cons – financially, sexually, parentally, etc. - before diving in, head first.