Lesson 51: Live together before marriage

Where do you even start?  On the surface it seems like a simple enough issue.  Deciding on whether or not to live together.  Cohabitation and the decision of whether or not to proceed is where a lot of relationships either progress or flop.  It is a major commitment.  You are not just deciding on whether or not you can or want to live with this person.  You are also making the decision that will lock you into sharing your life with someone.  Merging two lives, no matter how much love exists, can be difficult.  The move itself will never be as difficult as taking two separate lives and finding a way to interweave them.

This can be a tough one.  There are a lot of factors involved and a lot of planning that needs to be done.  It is not a simple yes or no question.  I get it.  This is a big step no matter how you slice it.  There are plenty of pros for cohabitation but there are a lot of cons as well.  There are a lot of questions that need to be asked and a lot of communication that needs to take place.  Just because no plan survives implementation doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a long-term plan.  Living together isn’t just about sharing a roof and your lives.  It can also help you to become closer and to learn more about each other.  It is also a message.  You are telling your partner that you have chosen them to share your life with and that you are ready for the next step.    

Moving in together isn’t enough.  You have to be ready for the fact that most of the great things in life are never easy.  Just because you both deserve to be happy, does not mean that life is going to make it easy for you.  That doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It can also be the difference maker.  People have so many different sides.  It is inevitable that there will be clashes.  You will see and learn things that only come from the experience of living together.  You will see new sides of them you never previously knew.  They have the personality that is for work, one for their friends, one for school maybe, one with their family, and then there is the one they have with you.  The one with you is the one to focus on.

Who they are when you are out together in public, is not likely going to be the same exact person in private.  As circumstances change, so do people’s personalities and attitudes.  It can be a good thing or it can end up being awful.  The only way you can truly know whether or not you will be able to live with someone, is to actually live with them.  All the subtle things that you miss or don’t have any exposure to because of less time around each other or because your only interactions are out in public are easy to miss or not fully understand.

This isn’t a homework assignment.  There is no set time period and this is not a one size fits all suggestion.  This is based on personal experiences and from what I have seen in the relationships of others.  How else are you supposed to find out whether or not you will be able to live with someone unless you actually go ahead and live with them?  Makes sense right?  It sounds simple enough but make sure you proceed with care and caution.  Take things slow.  Don’t rush.  This can end up being a double edged sword.  It can lead to a path of love and happiness.  It can also lead to a path of pain and heartache.  There is no denying that it is a risk, but you need to decide for yourself whether or not it is a risk worth taking.  There is always risk when opening your heart to people.  I feel the risk is well worth it.  

Most importantly, living together is the ultimate test of a relationship.  It is easy to intertwine two lives when you are at your very best.  The hard times are where you truly learn whether or not things are going to work.  The hard times will inevitably come.  This is where the true tests come.  By living together, you are getting the full picture rather than just seeing the parts they want you to see.  It is difficult to hide or avoid the other person during tough times when you live together and these are the tests that will demonstrate what a future with this person could look like.  Do the hard times bring you together?  Are you able to face them together?  Or does the divide become too much to handle?

Living together isn’t about surrendering or giving up.  It is the opposite.  You are taking the initiative together.  It will be an adventure and adventures are always better when you have someone to enjoy it with.  One way or another, you will learn a lot.  Your attitudes will dictate whether or not the experience is positive or negative.  The best part will be finding out whether or not this is your true love before going through legal channels and potentially making an irreversible, or difficult to fix error.  Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  Take things slow.  Relationships are unpredictable, but that isn’t a bad thing.

Takeaways:

  1. Have a plan but be ready for change.
  2. Faults are more difficult to hide from the people you live with.
  3. There is no set time period or one size fits all strategy for cohabitation.
  4. Hard times are inevitable but also a great way to strengthen the relationship.
  5. Your attitude will dictate whether cohabitation is a positive or negative experience.

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