When Cohabitation is the Next Step in Your Committed Relationship
An unmarried couple living together isn’t as shocking as it used to be. In fact, many couples consider cohabitation before they get married, just to see what life in a shared space would be like. Other couples define cohabitation as the ultimate commitment, and aren’t planning to get married. Wherever you beliefs lie, if you and your partner are considering cohabitation, there are many things you can do to make your living situation a happy one. Here are my top seven.
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Define This Next Step
What does cohabitation mean to you? Is it a test to see if you can live happily together once you get married? Or, is living together enough of a commitment for you both? If this is a stepping stone or the end of the line for your commitment, you need to know before you move in together.
Don’t Lament the Disappearance of Your “Perfect” Partner
What happened to that guy with the clean apartment who always shaved his face and wore clean clothes? Who’s this burping, farting, and toenail-clipping-at-the-table guy who wears the same underwear two days in a row? OMG, he pees with the door open and never replaces the toilet paper! Now that you live together, you’re going to see the real, human side of your partner, just like they’re going to see the real, human side of you. They’re going to feel your stubbly legs, see you without makeup and with unkempt hair. They’re going to know you poop and get your period. Shocked? Get over it!
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Make it Both Your Spaces
Your home should be a reflection of both your tastes. That can be hard to do if one partner gives up their home to move into their partner’s home. You don’t need two coffee tables, two couches, or two beds! The rule of thumb should be to keep the item that’s in the best shape. This is also going to require some compromise. You may have to sell something you love or at least put it in storage because your new home doesn’t have the space for it. That’s okay. Your partner will be giving up some of the things they love too.
Share the Chores
If you both work, there is no reason why you can’t share the household chores. Make a chore chart and stick to it. Decide how often the house gets cleaned. If one of you neglects your chores, the other is going to feel resentment and resentment is not part of happy cohabitation.
There is a fear common among anti-living-together people (most likely your mom or grandmother), that any woman who lives with a man she isn’t married to turns into a 1950s housewife. Suddenly she is cooking and cleaning and giving him sex for free! Unless you actually want to do all the cooking and cleaning, you don’t have to worry about magically turning into that woman. And as far as the free sex things goes, it might be a shock to those same anti-living-together people to learn that women enjoy sex just as much as men do. Sex isn’t a commodity, so you’re not giving anything away for free.
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Share the Bills
If you both earn money, you both pay the bills. If one partner earns more than the other, they can pay for more things, but each of you should be contributing financially to the lifestyle you lead and the home you keep. Like chores, if one person gets stuck paying for everything, resentment builds.
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Have Your Own Hobbies
Just because you’ve taken the next step in your commitment and chosen cohabitation, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the hobbies and activities you enjoy. Keep doing what you love, outside of the house. Whether it’s a fitness class, community garden, or writing at Starbucks, stick to it.
Have Your Alone Time
You don’t have to be together 24/7. You each need your alone time. Go out with your friends and leave your partner at home. Send your partner out with their friends so you can enjoy a night of peace and quiet on your own. Give yourselves the opportunity to miss each other and have separate adventures so you can tell each other about them later.
So how do you make your cohabitation work? Let me know in the comments!