After numerous dates and “I love you’s,” you and your partner have decided to move in together! Like the emoji of the couple holding hands, you’re both firmly committed to sharing a life by taking the plunge into cohabitation.
An increasing number of Nigerians are living together before they tie the knot. The Journal of Marriage and Family reports the longer couples wait to say their “I do’s,” the healthier their odds for long-term marital happiness.
Cohabitation is not always going to be like your favorite rom-com, so it’s wise to take the decision seriously before you start decorating and playing house.
Can you find a good place?
When deciding where to move, make sure you have enough physical room to live together. Can you imagine cramped quarters? Not having enough space can add strain, especially when it comes to alone time. Practice staying over at each other’s houses as this provides an idea of whose place to move into or how much more space you both need.
How realistic are your expectations?
Don’t assume everything is going to work out in the first few months. Instead, set impartial, realistic expectations and give your new dynamic time to grow. Will you both be home for dinner each night? Is this a step toward marriage? Your partner can’t read your mind. Ensure you two are on the same page with common goals for the direction of your relationship. Although living together doesn’t mean losing individuality, expect to compromise a wee bit.
Can you share household chores?
Chores should be shared equally. It might be easier said than done as one partner usually values organization more than the other, but not sharing duties causes friction when underlying frustration festers, becoming a bottle and cap scenario. It doesn’t need to be fifty-fifty, but it should be fair, honest and as structured or fluid as you agree to make it.
Are you good communicators?
Honest communication becomes the driving force for long-term success when you live together. As you move more quickly into each other’s personal space, you may also get on each other’s nerves more quickly, so make sure you communicate effectively of what’s bothering you. Being passive-aggressive and giving the silent treatment only hurts the relationship, so be honest, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Have you talked about faith, finances and sex?
While difficult to discuss, these three are equally important for the basis of a solid relationship. Is your partner religious? Can you two share money? What are your sexual appetites like? Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you’d like the relationship to be like, but be realistic too. Work on a plan that caters to your both of your wants and needs. Your passions for each other will be tested, so if you don’t discuss these three openly and one of you struggles with something the other isn’t tolerant of, bitterness and resentment can threaten the relationship.
Can you maintain sociability?
Though you might not realize it, you isolate yourself from friends and social outings when you start dating or move in together. Don’t let your romantic relationship be the only one that fulfills you. While double dates are the best way to stay in touch with friends, don’t be afraid to have fun without your partner sometimes and plan for a regular old girl’s night out.
Are you truly ready?
While you know your relationship best, the Council on Contemporary Families reports an important factor in determining readiness is how old a couple is when they first decide to share a home.
The study’s co-author and assistant professor, Arielle Kuperberg says, “What leads to divorce is when people move in with someone — with or without a marriage license — before they have the maturity and experience to choose compatible partners and conduct themselves in ways that can sustain a long-term relationship.”
Study reveals it’s unwise to live together, or even get married, before the age of 23. And numerous family experts suggest the longer you wait past 23 for such ventures, the more likely it is that your relationship will last.