You Don’t Have To Be Traditional
Today is another day to be honest with ourselves. The days of marriage-before-children and move-in-after-marriage are long behind us. That’s not to say it doesn’t still happen, but it doesn’t have the same stigma if you do things a different way. From my perspective, moving in together was much tougher on our relationship than getting married, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. If we had waited until marriage to move in together I may have lost my mind! I needed some time to adjust to sharing my personal space and decide if there were any deal breakers (which we will come back to later.)
Many people told us how things will change and how we have to prepare for marriage, but none of it was true for us. When we got married, I changed my last name, gained and gave access to bank accounts/bills and that was about all that changed. Oh and we started ignoring people’s text messages and phone calls if they were trying to convince us to do things the way they thought we should.
Just like with everything else, you should prepare yourself for the next phase in your relationship. That means, don’t make any assumptions about how your partner feels. Communicate.
Have you explicitly discussed your relationship status? Listen, I suggest you do not move in before you have this conversation. If you are confused about what you will be when you move in, here are some options: Single (with a roommate), in a relationship (cohabitating), Engaged (cohabitating), Married, It’s complicated (and living together?) Don’t get caught making your relationship something you haven’t discussed. It’s no fun being in a title alone. A prime example is deciding when and if you want to get married or if you want to live together and discuss later. Some people will move in and get comfortable and decide to hold off on marriage because they have what they want in that moment. Avoid these misunderstandings by having the conversations. Also, please remember, if you have been living on your own, you will have to learn how to share your space again. If you just moved out of your parent’s home, then you have to learn how to make rules for your house that you and your partner can agree on and do all the things your parents annoyed you about.
Whether you are in a relationship or you are single you should be making a note of your deal breakers, okay? These are important in the success of your relationship. If you aren’t sure what I am talking about this is key. A deal breaker (in my opinion) is something you know upfront you will not accept in a potential life partner. That means if you do not want children at all, you will likely have trouble dating a person who has children and have to prioritize those children over your relationship, especially early in dating. Please don’t be that person that doesn’t know themselves or what they want in a relationship especially while preparing to move in with someone and then is surprised that after 6 years and now moving in together, you all are breaking up because you are only now realizing you hate the way they chew or how they leave their clothes around the house.
So my advice is to first know your deal breakers, so you can be in a relationship with a clear understanding of yourself, your partner and your relationship. Then have the conversation about your relationship status. Be on the same page and have open conversations. While this is simplified, each couple’s process will not look the same in detail, but close enough in general that these conversations for everyone is worth having.
Why Move In Now?
For the most part, you have deciding power in which order your life happens. Of course, there are things that happen that cause your life to take a turn. However, regardless not everyone is ready to get married. Not everyone is ready to have children when they get married. Not everyone wants to marry before they have children. Not everyone wants to marry or have children when they move in. No matter how your plan plays out you have to be adaptable. A deal breaker today may not be something you place as much value on later in life. That means you have to keep revisiting your relationship ideas and values and discuss them together.
Obviously, at this point you have decided it is time to live together. Take the time to understand why now is the right time to move in. At times we make this decision because it helps us financially. I know someone who was ready to move in with her boyfriend. About two months into looking for a place they broke up. While it appeared this would be a reasonable decision they would have been stuck in their lease and not able to just walk away. So really think about the reason you are making this decision. At times, we want to move in before we get married to get to know each other better before getting married. My husband and I lived together before we were engaged. That allowed us to have an adjustment period before we made the next level of commitment and at the time we didn’t really think that out loud, but we knew we planned to get married and would work through our challenges. Knowing that you are willing to face any challenge together also makes a difference in your journey together.
So as you read, hopefully you feel that communication and understanding are at the top of the relationship list. Have those conversations and be on the same page before you make the move. Also, be willing to address and readdress your feelings. Things will not change overnight so you may find that you have to have a conversation multiple times before you figure things out and that is just fine.
While you go through this change do not compare your relationship to anyone else’s relationship. You will have your own journey and your own trials and even if someone is experiencing a similar situation your emotions and decisions will not match theirs. So focus on you and yours and let other people focus on theirs.
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