Previously I wrote about how couples should be engaged before they move in together. In that article, I cited the study conducted by a University of Virginia clinical psychologist in which the number of couples co-habitating before marriage had increased to nearly 8 million. Looking at history, the juxtaposition of co-habitation and the sexual revolution are very closely related. That is, more couples have eased their way into marriage by testing the waters relatively safely under one roof.
However, the process of moving in together is far from simple. For many adults in their late 20s, their current living situation is out of convenience. They live in a place that they can afford and that is located in close enough proximity to work or campus, if they’re still pursuing education. Or they live at home under the guise of saving money to purchase their dream home as a singleton. In general, as the earning power of college-educated adults, specifically women, have increased so have living quarters. To handle the boom of young, educated professionals, you can go to any downtown metropolitan city in the US and see upscale mid and high-rises being constructed almost annually. Despite going through the recession caused by Bush #2, many 20 and 30 somethings are still managing to live in places that exude conspicuous wealth.
Q: So what does this mean for the average couple?
It’s two-fold. First, depending on your financial situation, you may not be so quick to leave your current apartment/condo/townhouse. And secondly, finding a place that both of you equally like as much as you like your individual places is tedious. For a couple ready to make that move, there are three initial things that they need to consider and be honest about:
* What can you realistically afford as a unit? Sure, living in a $2500 month apartment on the 21st floor overlooking the city sounds great. Renting may make sense if you’re engaged and plan to spend a good bulk of your available funds on the wedding. But in the long run, you have to calculate will it really make sense to pay an exorbitant amount in rent for a short time. If there were ever a great time for young adults to be first time homeowners, it’s now.
* Is the space enough for both of you to add elements of individuality? Guys don’t care about the specifics in decorating. We just know what we like. We need a space that’s free from flowery prints, pastel wall colors, and potpourri. We need to have our own multimedia system where the DVR can be full of games we watched already. As a couple, so much of your time will be spent doing couples things. The two of you will need to come up for air and get away from each other at times. However, neither of you should have to physically leave the house to do that.
* Is there an understanding of chores and household responsibilities? You can turn on any daytime court show and see couples that are suing each other over unpaid household bills and resentment over dirty dishes, past due rent, and furniture. Because it’s the two of you starting anew as one, there still needs to be a discussion about who handles what. In a marriage, it’s commonplace for the breadwinner to pay the big bills and maybe split everything else down the middle. For other couples, they split absolutely everything down the middle. If you’re lucky enough to be a doting housewife, your responsibilities are confined to your address. Whatever the case may be, it’s on you to define the roles succinctly enough that there’s no confusion.
Overall, the experience of moving in together should be an exciting phase of your relationship’s story. After being engaged, it’s the next step in solidifying the foundation for your future. It’s hard to let go of your old apartment. For most, it’s truly signifies the end of an era in your life. The transition can be more bearable as long as it’s something you’re doing in order to continue to propel your relationship forward.