so about marriage…

I noticed today that I feel so much different now about marriage since I swore off of it a couple of years ago.

Out of some odd curiosity I looked at all the WordPress blogs under the category https://wordpress.com/tag/marriage/ and noticed that a lot of them had some sort of religious reference, for one thing.  Otherwise they fell into categories of celebrating how long they had endured in that condition, or went on to list ways to mend the marriage or make it better.

I have an odd sense of humor perhaps, but it made me think of someone talking about their Cadillac and how it was the best car in the world and how it had changed their lives, but you really needed to psyche yourself up to drive it and be careful you don’t do certain things or it will break down and the repairs would be expensive.

In short, it reinforced the idea that marriage isn’t for everyone, and those that it is for now seem a bit off to me.

But I say that in a nice way, and don’t intend any disparagement to anyone that is married or wants to be married.  A couple of my kids are married, most of my adult relatives are married, and I wish them all the best.  And I was married – 3 times for 38 years married.  So perhaps I should consider that I’m just as much “a bit off” as they are in that respect.

I haven’t been able to define it to myself precisely, but living in a committed relationship without marriage, as I am now, is distinguishably different.  And I wish there were as many blogs about being unmarried together as there are for the married.  Maybe it’s just that there are fewer issues for the unmarried?  Maybe it’s more like owning a Toyota Prius that never has problems and gets great gas mileage, which helps you overlook the fact that the navigation system sends you to a completely wrong place once in awhile?

So I guess my point is, if you’re living unmarried to someone, write a blog.  It might give married people something else to blog about.

Getting ready for your girlfriend to move in?

OK guys, I just confirmed some advice I read online.  If your girlfriend is moving in with you, hire a PROFESSIONAL cleaning service to get it all ship-shape before she arrives.

Other items gleaned from online:

  • make space for her and her stuff. clean everything, buy some flowers and make dinner.
  • Clean your house. Really well. Then clean the bathroom again. 🙂
  • Flowers are nice. If there is any sort of art she likes, buy it, frame it, and hang it. Or do that with a photograph she loves.
  • Hire a maid to really, really, really clean. And then make sure there is plenty of room in the bathroom for her toiletries, which will take up 5 times more space than you think they should.
  • go pillow shopping together. Your personal bed will now become your-the-two-of-you’s bed and a way to say “hey this is part yours now” is to make sure she has her own taste in pillows.
  • First of all, dedicate some private space. Even a drawer or half a closet that she can have to herself is good for making things feel homey.
  • If your domicile is stuffed to the gills with your items, consider donating what you don’t need anymore, and clearing space, and thinking about what sort of storage she’ll need.
  • Clean towels. You can never have enough. Trust me on this.

  • Clean the apartment. Make sure she has her fair share of drawers and bookshelf space. Clean the apartment some more. Make her a copy of the key.
  • She’s not living with you, you’re living together so make things as equal as possible. Also make sure you keep open communication about mess and cleaning. Even the most sane people get freaked out by this stuff so make sure it’s all talkable about. Good luck!
  • Clean. If you aren’t good at serious, deep cleaning, pay a service to come and do a one-time top to bottom deep cleaning of the apartment. Have that place sparkling when she arrives. Floors, counters, every inch of the bathroom, all linens cleaned, everything.
  • If you don’t have a bathroom trashcan (with a lid, ideally), buy one.
  • In the bathroom, make sure that there is lots of space in the shower, near the sink, and in a drawer for her — even the most granola of hippies will have a preferred brand of shampoo, a toothbrush, and some “girl products” that she shouldn’t need to keep in her suitcase. Put out new bars of soap (or full soap dispensers, if you use the liquid stuff) by the sink, in the shower, etc.
  • If you can easily afford it, buying new sheets, towels, and pillowcases is a nice touch, but hardly mandatory unless your current ones are stained and discolored.
  • Give her lots of closet and drawer space in the bedroom; a night-table for her is a nice touch, too.
  • Make sure there is room in the kitchen for whatever food products she likes to have on hand. If you know what she likes, having her favorite breakfast cereal and so on already in the kitchen when she arrives is a really nice touch.
  • Have keys ready for her when she arrives (nothing makes a place feel less like yours than if you have to wait for someone to let you in every day). Help get her a library card, or bus pass, or whatever she needs to have access to cool stuff in your town.
  • If she’s not local, make an extra effort in the first week to introduce her to some of your friends, so she at least will have met a few people — moving far away to be with a SO can be really isolating and lonely.
  • If getting there will be a long and exhausting trip, have something nice but low-key ready for her when she arrives — dinner reservations, or a bottle of her favorite wine, or whatever she might like. If getting there will be a really brutal trip, or if she has just finished a tough time where she is coming from, make reservations (and arrange to pay) for her to get a massage/spa day/luxurious treat on the third or so day after she arrives (the second day she will probably still be wiped out; by the third day she will hopefully be recuperated and ready to enjoy the treat).
  • Get used to referring to it as “our home” rather than “my home”. Start now.
  • Basically, try and look at your place with outside eyes, and make the changes to it that will make it yours plural rather than yours singular. Have a little wrapped up gift basket or something for when she walks in the door, with house keys, some treats, and a gift certificate to a massage/spa, plus some little present that will make her smile.
  • Whatever you do, make sure the toilet seat is NOT up!

  • Have the second key ready. No excuse. This is a small symbol with big meaning. Test it first too. Sometimes copies are a bit off, and require a little fidgeting. Either tell the landlord/key copier it’s not good enough, or give her the good key, and keep the fidgety one.
  • Those wine corks that you have sitting around until you get to your next project? Extra clothes, unfinished furniture? Anything that you’ve been meaning to get around to, get rid of it. Freecycle, goodwill, or chuck it.
  • Buy her favorite foodstuffs. For example, when my partner comes home after a long absence I stock up on his favorite cola and 2% milk, neither of which I drink. It is a really nice gesture, as nice as flowers, to know that they thought ahead to make sure you’d have the right kind of milk for your coffee/cereal.
  • Make room for her. Especially lots of room for her girly stuff in the bathroom.
  • Get a female friend to inspect the house to catch anything you missed.
  • clean all the crap out of the fridge & stock it with plenty of tasty, fresh food. preferably things she likes. if you don’t know what she likes, just remember that yogurt is the official food of women, so buy up on dozens of different flavours.
  • Hire a maid to really, really, really clean before she arrives, and have the maid keep cleaning once a week. Your girlfriend is not moving in clean up after you. If you’re in the habit of leaving your dirty laundry on the bathroom floor, stop. Also, get in the habit of making the bed, if you aren’t already.

 

So about the unmarried…

It’s like the riddle of the Sphinx… why are there so many great unmarried women, and no great unmarried men?
Sarah Jessica Parker

Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we’ve always had: work, or prison.
Tim Allen

Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you – the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love – may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave.
Elizabeth Gilbert

Here’s the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
Elizabeth Gilbert

I think it’s unfortunate that there exists only one path in America to complete social legitimacy, and that is marriage. I think, for instance, that it would be far easier for Americans to elect a black president or a female president than an unmarried president.
Elizabeth Gilbert

Religion looms as large as an elephant in the United States, to the point that being nonreligious is about the biggest handicap a politician running for office can have, bigger than being gay, unmarried, thrice married, or black.
Frans de Waal

Unmarried couples should get married – that’s an excellent tax avoidance measure, if a bit drastic.
John Whiting

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/unmarried.html#v0mAoaLqGQo2SRVa.99

How to Move In Together: A Checklist

Dear xoJane,

My boyfriend and I are moving in together soon and while I am super excited, I also feel a little unprepared. I’ve never lived with someone before! I was hoping you guys could give me some advice on the matter. So my question is; If you could go back in time to before you first lived with someone, what advice would you give yourself?

Thanks x 10000000,

Emily sent the above letter from a reader to the xoJane crew and I was all over it because a) I’m coming up on my one year living together anniversary with the mostly greatest boyfriend on earth and b) Oh, how I wish I’d had the foresight to ask for advice waaay back in the day when I first moved in with the worst boyfriend of all time.

So first, Dear Reader, I commend you on being smart enough to realize what a BIG move moving in really is. As the New York Times recently emphasized  in the op-ed “The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage” many American couples simply “slide” into cohabitating, effectively making a non-decision about a very, very important decision:

Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

Touche, touche. It took me three months to figure out who to room with freshman year but all of three minutes to say “Um, yeah sure okay” when my college boyfriend suggested we just share his one-bedroom in Harlem. To make a long story short, the whole thing ended epically bad. Turned out homeboy was a nut. And for my part? I was naive.

I was 19 years old and just sort of testing the waters of seriousness whereas he, at a very old-seeming 22, was ready to put a ring on it right after I rustled up my degree. We never discussed this massive imbalance in expectations until it was too late to talk any lower than a scream. Supposedly one of the hardest things to do after moving in, is moving out.

When I walked out of our former love nest one last time with a box of pictures of my friends — pictures he’d doused with “water” — I tried to be civil. But before I could turn to say a final goodbye, he pushed me down the stairs and then slammed the door on my flying back.

“Just get the fuck out then,” he shouted in an octave that can only be described as hurt. I landed on my feet — literally — stunned and relieved. Mostly relieved. Yeah, this isn’t a happy story.

But there is hope, promise!

image

An artistic rendering of me staring longingly at my main squeeze

After 10 years of “never again” responses when asked about the likelihood of me sharing my sacred space with anyone other than Miles the Magnificent Pug Psychiatrist, I met my main squeeze. A man who I can honestly say turned my self-centered world view on its head.

That is to say, now it’s the two of us (three counting Miles) and I’ve had to dig deep past my only-child tendencies to embrace the chaos of other people’s shit. It’s fantastic, frightening and mostly very fun.

But none of that is to say living together is easy just because I’m a) older b) have more sense and c) know how to ask someone to do dishes. Living together is hard work. In fact, in my opinion it should be just as hard as being married to someone.

To quote the Times pieces once again: “The best time to work on someone’s marriage is before he or she has one.” Or to put it in 21 century “not everyone wants to get married” terms, the best time to work on your serious “we live together” relationship is before your cohabitator invades.

So here’s my totally makeshift, experience-driven and absolutely unscientific Moving In Checklist. This is also me assuming you’ve plowed through the important stuff like who’s paying for what (halfsies or some other fraction), who’s handling the bills (i.e., actually pressing submit or smacking on a stamp) and who’s doing stuff like dinner, the dishes, the laundry, etc.

Put your name on the lease

Moving into someone else’s space is tricky both emotionally and legally. Never let anyone, no matter how cute they are in the morning, hold your housing in their hands. I’ve known too many smart women with jobs who ended up effectively homeless when a relationship ended. And on a brighter note ,when the two of you are both on the lease then you both feel equally empowered to make decisions about the mansion/apartment/shack/house (remember MASH?).

Get a storage unit

Remember the “stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale coffee table” Jess wanted to keep when he moved in with Marie in “When Harry Met Sally”? Just avoid the fight and store all of his (or your) hideous crap out of sight. Plus, you don’t need redundant furniture. If someone’s life-sized Darth Vader wax figure is too sentimental for Craigslist but also too ugly to exist, then swath that bad boy in bubble wrap and ship it off to the 10 x 10 that time forgot.

Have conversations

You do this a lot sans rooming but convos not of the “who needs to do x, y and z” variety can fall by the wayside once folks have sides of the bed. And yes, talking always makes things better. Despite being a writer on most days, I hate talking about things like my feelings directly to the person I have them for. I can never find the words and I feel awkward and dorky — like how if your favorite singer sang you a love song. The whole time I’m thinking, Where do I look? What to do with my hands?

Thankfully my love life is not a live action episode of “Glee.” When there’s a problem, it only makes sense to sit down and talk it out with the person you see the most, the person you care enough about to live with. But “We need to talk” is the worst. I usually open with “Can you listen to me right now?” It’s weird, but it works.

Go on dates.

I don’t know how or when people with spawn hijacked the term “date night,” but it’s for everybody. Date Night for all!!! When you move in together, the trajectory usually follows a clear line from high “Holy shit you’re still here” type glances in the steamy bathroom mirror and then quickly devolves into, “Yep, still here” sighs from the front door. Remedy this by getting out of the damn house on a regular basis. There’s a reason your mom demanded you “go out and play” for a while after school — stir crazy is a thing. And it can kill the sex. Also, have sex (if that’s your thing).

Manage your expectations

This check is two-fold. Firstly, don’t think living together will transform your couch into a magical island of psychedelic fun. It’s still a couch. What makes the mundane stuff of your single life even better in your doubled-up life is the act of being in a fun, committed “thing.”

Also manage your expectations by checking in with yourself. Ask if you’re still on the same page with your partner? If you’re still enjoying the relationship? Are you smiling 7 times out of 10 when your main squeeze turns his key or is that sound more akin to nails on a chalkboard?

Living together is a leap. Whether you land on your feet, in his lap or on your BFF’s couch three months later is entirely up to the two of you. But waking up in the morning to your favorite face (aside from your own, of course) is seriously the gift that keeps on giving.

And I know I’m not the only one in the xoJane peanut gallery with strong opinions on the whole cohab confab. Add your deal-breakers and makers to the list folks, I wanna make sure I’m doing this thing right, too.

via How to Move In Together: A Checklist From Someone Who Learned the Hard Way | xoJane.  [check out the comments too]

Overcoming Singleness Anxiety

Throughout our entire childhood and upbringing, we were taught that we are supposed to look for love and marriage. We were taught that we should get married. We were taught that love and/or marriage would make us happy… or even that love and marriage are needed in order to be happy. This is ingrained in us by our parents, our teachers, the movies, TV shows and everything else most of us were exposed to. This is normal. And at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a problem at all. So what’s the issue?

The big issue with our pursuit of love… it makes us unhappy

If we believe that we need to find love and get married in order to be happy, this naturally makes us believe our life isn’t good enough the way it is. This subtle and often unconscious belief that “life isn’t good enough the way it is” creates a sense of lack, a sense of incompleteness, or a sense that something is missing from our lives. For some of us, this sense is very subtle and can only be noticed through continuous efforting to find someone to love us… but for others, this sense of lack is very apparent and strong.

In addition, once we believe that love and marriage are required to be happy, we naturally believe that we can’t be as happy if we don’t find love and get married. This is automatic. If we believe it is “best” to get married, of course we are going to believe that it would be “worse” if we never get married. Once we believe that it would be “bad” if we never find love and get married, we being to fear that outcome and experience stress and anxiety about it.

As long as you believe that love and marriage can make you happy, you will have this sense of lack and fear that you won’t find love

So, if you would like to feel complete now, if you would like to feel relaxed and anxiety-free now, there is a simple way to do it. Discover that another human being does not have the ability to fulfill you. If you can discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, then you will no longer feel like you are missing something in your life, and you will no longer fear not getting love and marriage.

Let’s examine whether love and marriage can fulfill you:

All of our unwanted emotions are created by thoughts. To believe that someone else can make you happy, means that you believe another person can eliminate all of your negative thoughts. Of course, we don’t recognize this is what we are believing, but nonetheless, that is the underlying assumption. The only way we can be happy is if we don’t have thoughts that make us unhappy. If we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, we are inherently believing that love and marriage will somehow eliminate all of the different types of negative thoughts that currently create our unwanted emotions and prevent us from feeling fulfilled. But is that true? Let’s look at 7 different types of thoughts that love and marriage can’t eliminate.

1) Do you have any insecurities or judgments about yourself?

Are there parts of your personality or your appearance that you don’t like? Do these thoughts sometimes make you feel ashamed, embarrassed, lacking, or worried about others’ opinions? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

2) Do you have aspects of your life that you think aren’t good enough?

Maybe your job isn’t good enough, your apartment isn’t good enough, or you don’t make enough money. These thoughts make you feeling lacking and insufficient, and create anxiety. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

3) Are there people in your life which you think aren’t good enough?

Do you judge people that you come across? Do you sometimes get angry at co-workers? Do you have issues with your parents? Do you think your friends don’t always do the right thing? Do you think people should treat you better? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

4) Do you worry about what other people think?

Do you worry about whether you have your parents’ approval? Do you worry about whether your boss will like your work? Do you worry about what others will think of your appearance and clothes? Do you sometimes not do what you want because you are afraid of what other people will think (i.e. dancing etc)? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

5) Do you sometimes feel guilty or ashamed about your actions?

Do you sometimes do things you don’t want to do? Are you sometimes unable to do things that you really want to do? Do you still have habits that you think are bad, but can’t stop them? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

6) Do you sometimes feel restless and bored?

When you are just sitting or lying down and your mind is constantly thinking, this creates the feeling of being restless or bored. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

7) Do outcomes and events sometimes occur that you don’t like?

When you have negative thoughts about a particular outcome or event, doesn’t this sometimes create sadness or anger? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

Relationships can eliminate a few negative thoughts, but they will almost certainly be replaced by new ones

Getting into a relationship will likely help you get rid of the thought “my life isn’t good enough because I don’t have a partner or someone to love me”. This will likely eliminate part of the sense of lack and shame that you had. But, it is likely to be replaced with new thoughts about how “my relationship isn’t good enough”, “they don’t love me enough”, “they don’t appreciate me enough”, “our relationship isn’t as good as their relationship” and these types of thoughts which will create more lack and shame

If you get married, you will almost certainly lose the thought “it would be if I never get married or find someone to love me”. Since this thought created some anxiety, whatever anxiety it created will likely be gone. That will feel really nice in the beginning. However, this thought is likely to be replaced with a new worries about whether they will stop loving you, worries about whether they still love you, worries about what you need to do to keep their love, worries about whether they will cheat on you, and possibly others. These new thoughts will continue to create anxiety and worry. It makes us fear that we will lose their love and constantly seek reassurances that they love us.

If you are seeking love and marriage to make yourself feel happy and whole, you are looking for someone to use.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you want to find love and marriage? Really, take a moment to answer that. If you knew with absolute certainty that getting someone to love  you and marry you would make you unhappy, worried, and angry all the time… would you still want to pursue love and marriage? Almost certainly not. Why would you pursue love and marriage if you knew it would make you unhappy?

You likely wouldn’t. If you would want to pursue love and marriage when you believe it would make you happy… and you wouldn’t want to pursue love and marriage if you believe it would make you unhappy… then it makes it pretty clear that you are just pursuing love and marriage because you believe it will make you happy. In other words, you don’t want love and marriage… you want to be happy, and you just happen to think that love and marriage will make you happy. Love and marriage is the means, not the goal.

But, here is the reason why I bring that up. If we are seeking love and approval to be happy, then we are actually seeking someone to make us happy. In other words, if we are seeking someone to make us happy, we are actually looking for someone who we can use to make us happy. This is why we tend to think that receiving love means having someone to fill our needs (or wants).

If we are using someone to make us happy, then we aren’t really loving them. We just love how they help make us feel. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that. It’s just not based on love. If we pursue someone to make us happy, then we will “love” them when they seem to make us feel good and we will hate them when they seem to make us feel “bad”. This type of “love” is completely conditional. The bottom line is that if we don’t truly love someone, then we don’t feel this love or the fulfillment that comes with truly loving… unconditionally and selflessly. By pursuing love to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for a relationship that’s not actually based on love.

When you discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, you can be much happier right now

When we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, it creates a whole lot of suffering. And this suffering absolutely doesn’t end when we find someone to love us.

But, if you are able to see that love and approval can’t make you happy and fulfilled, then you can stop feeling like something is missing from your life and stop worrying about whether you will ever get it. Then, you will be left feeling much more free and happy right now.

If you want to feel whole and happy, you need to identify and address the thoughts that make you feel this way

Since other people cannot change all of our negative thoughts to positive ones, we need to question the truth of our negative thoughts if we want to be happy. If we don’t believe the thoughts which make us feel unappreciated, insufficient, or unlovable, then we will be completely happy regardless of whether or not others love us.

In addition, once you are already happy, then you can enter into a relationship without wanting anything from the other person. When you are fulfilled, you can enter into a relationship without an ulterior motive… without using them. Then, any relationship will be much more enjoyable. It will be based on love.

Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, discovering that a relationship can’t make you happy will make it much more likely that you will end up in a happy relationship.

Now, I would like you to ask yourself a few questions:

Can love and marriage eliminate all the thoughts that create my unwanted emotions and make me feeling lacking and unfulfilled?

If love and marriage can’t eliminate all (or even many) of the thoughts that make me unhappy, is it true that love and marriage can give me the happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment I want?

If love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me (or anyone else), then is it true that my life isn’t “good enough” just because I don’t have love and marriage?

If love and marriage can’t fulfill me, am I sure that I would be happiest if I got married?

If all of my unwanted emotions and sense of lack are created by thoughts, then is it true that I need to get love and marriage in order to be happy?

Is it possible for me to feel completely whole, happy, and fulfilled without getting married (by addressing my thoughts)?

If I can be fulfilled without getting love and marriage (by addressing my thoughts)… and love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me… then can I admit that it wouldn’t necessarily be “bad” for my life or my happiness if I never get love and marriage?

via How To Stop Feeling Lacking and Worried About Being Single.

Moving in together – a guide for guys

Imagine having your girlfriend there to fall asleep with every night, wake up beside, and eat meals with, every day. This thought can make you want to call her to tell her to pack her bags and move in with you, or shudder with fear. But if you venture into this unprepared, you’ll want to ship your new roommate out with the empty boxes.

Living together as a couple is one of the big steps of any relationship, right up there with marriage and starting a family, only your commitment isn’t bound by vows, nor are you bringing another human life into the picture.

As well, moving in together shouldn’t cause the same cold feet as marriage — it can be an excellent experience, making every day feel like a honeymoon. You just need to make sure you’re ready.

r-u-ready?

While living together can reap some of the advantages of marriage, it also packs in some inconveniences. Forget about going out without telling her who you’re going with, where you’re going and when you’ll be home. Think twice before you grunt, scratch and burp after every meal and during football. And hockey. And baseball. And golf. Oh yeah, while we’re at it, forget about watching only sports. You’ll also need to make time for figure skating, prime-time dramas and the soap operas she records every day.

So how can you tell that you’re ready to make the big move? A good start is by considering the following points:

How long have you been together?

How long you’ve been together isn’t the most accurate gauge of whether or not the move should be made, as time is relative to the point of your life in which you find yourself. A year together for a thirty-something couple is probably not equivalent to a yearlong relationship for 22-year-olds. As well, the decision should be based on how much you want this person to be a part of your everyday life — literally.

How much time do you spend together?

If you find that you’re with your girlfriend seven nights a week, at one of your apartments, and even spend every waking hour with each other, then perhaps living together is worth it. But keep in mind that those seven nights of “sleepovers” are not necessarily equivalent to actually living together. No matter how much time you spend with one another, the precious moments you have at home, on your own, might be enough to give you the breather you need. When you live together, there are few places you can escape to.

Are you ready to live with someone?

You might feel that you’ve lived on your own for enough time already, and are prepared to share your living space with that special someone. If you’re simply tired of being alone and want someone to come home to — and luckily for you, that someone is your girlfriend — then maybe the time to share a space has arrived.

Do you know who you are?

Speaking of having lived on your own, it might not be a good idea to go from living at home with your family to moving in with your girlfriend, unless it’s against your family values to live on your own until you’re married. It’ll also be a shock to your system when you learn that your loving roommate does not intend to do your laundry, fold your underwear and socks, and cook you dinner every night, just like mommy did. But once you’ve lived out on your own for a while and know how to fend for yourself, it might be an easier transition to make.

Are you eventually going to marry her?

If you know this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, why not start out by living together to get a feel for what lies ahead? If you’ve discussed marriage with each other and you know she’s the one, then there’s no better time to call the movers.

Are you doing it for the rent?

If you spend countless hours at each other’s apartments and figure that you may as well cut your rent in half by living together, eventually you’ll probably want to cut your time spent together in half. Saving money on rent should be considered a result of moving in together, not a motivation.

race to one space

You might be elated to move in with your sweetheart, and as long as the two of you are ready, it can be a great step. Whoever said that you don’t know someone until you live with them must have lived with his girlfriend, and even if you’ve been an item for years, the little things you’ll learn about each other will surely surprise you. Traveling together is one of the “relationship tests” every couple should endure, but a vacation is a walk in the park compared to sharing the same living space.

While getting a dog together to test your ability to care for another life form as a team and traveling overseas can serve as wakeup calls, living with your girlfriend can be a rude awakening to say the least — so make sure you’re ready. Do not live together if one of you is being pressured in any way; you must both be prepared to go into this head first, because if you approach the move prematurely and it doesn’t work out, it could mean the detriment of your relationship.

I may have already talked you out of moving in together, but I hope not because I do believe that it’s a necessary step in a serious relationship of long-term capacity. And if you go about it the right away and with the right attitude, you might never want to leave home at all — that is, when she’s there.

survival tips

Sacrifice and compromise

If you’re a neat freak who can’t stand your girlfriend’s tendency to leave plates piling up in the sink, don’t wig out on her if she waits until the end of the day to do the dishes, and by the same token, she should make a concerted effort to clear the sink. As well, if you’re an early bird and your girlfriend has lunch at dinnertime, let her sleep and don’t be noisy in the morning. Make some sacrifices just to put her at ease, and make sure the effort is reciprocated — this is your roommate with benefits, after all.

Make schedules

Speaking of making compromises, a good way to ensure that you both fulfill your end of the bargain is by scheduling each other’s duties. It doesn’t have to be carved in stone, but at least a schedule can outline what each one should do to make sure they’re pulling their own weight in the apartment. You can divide everything from doing the groceries and taking out the trash to vacuuming, and no, performing a sexual favor or two won’t get you out of toilet cleaning detail (okay, maybe just once).

Outline details immediately

Making schedules of household chores is nowhere near as important as outlining the “contract” of your living arrangement — the lease. It is imperative that you both understand and agree to the terms of the lease and however it is split. The same goes for house or condo ownership, if you decide to purchase. Of lesser importance but key nonetheless, are the terms of your living arrangement. Make sure you’re on the same wavelengths where your budgets and social lives are concerned.

Get your own life

Speaking of social life, it’s important that you each maintain your own lives outside of the apartment walls. You should understand if she wants to go out with the girls or have them over for dinner, and she should equally understand that you could go out with your buddies, without feeling guilty if she’s staying home alone watching reruns. And don’t feel guilty for having your own plans once in a while — you each need your separate lives, so that you don’t reach the point of total dependency.

Set up alone time

By the same token, make sure that you each have time to chill out on your own, apart from socially. Even if you don’t have separate rooms, your own space doesn’t need physical walls — establish that you might just sit in the kitchen reading the paper or want to watch TV alone in the den. She should do the same, and make sure to respect each other’s “me time.”

Designate purchases

It might also be a good idea to split up your large purchases. Rather than dividing the cost of the couch and fridge, I recommend splitting up the actual purchases, such as furniture vs. electronics, or bedroom vs. kitchen. In the case of an eventual breakup, it might be hard to split the bed down the middle, even if it is a king size.

call the movers, we’re coming

As you can see, there’s more to think about and work on than simply finding a place you both agree on and calling the movers. Make sure you establish all the details of your living arrangement, and understand that there is nowhere to run and hide if you get into a fight and can’t get away with bringing a new girl home.

But don’t get scared because although this is a huge step in any relationship, it is worth taking if you love spending time together and want to share more than memories — the good and the not-so-good.

via Moving in together – AskMen.

7 Things to Consider Before Living Together

It didn’t take long for me to realize that living with my girlfriend might require a slight adjustment period—we were still packing my stuff for the move to her place. I was lugging yet another heavy box through the kitchen on my way downstairs to the van, sweat streaming from my face, when Kirsten looked up from the cutting board she was carefully wrapping in newspaper.

“Oooh!” she sighed, spotting a snow globe we picked up during our first vacation together. “Remember where we bought this?”

I’m dying, she’s dawdling. Maybe, just maybe, I started to think, Kirsten and I are not a single soul split betwixt two bodies.

Shacking up is a good way to save on rent and get lovin’ without scheduling an appointment. But there’s more to moving in than sex and money. “You’re agreeing to share your lives, not just your living space,” says Marshall Miller, proprietor of unmarried.org and coauthor of Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together as an Unmarried Couple. “When a couple agree to move in together, they’re often at a high point of feeling good about one another. But cohabitation quickly gets to the nitty-gritty of life.”

Come to grips with these seven revelations before you move in together and maybe the relationship will outlast the lease.

Your Relationship Will Change

Now that you’re “domestic partners,” things are going to be different around here, mister. Effective immediately. “Cohabitation,” says Miller, “is a lot like turning the TV to your favorite channel—and then leaving it on 24-7. You’re bound to see some stuff you don’t like so much.”

For one thing, your beloved won’t always look as hot as she used to when you picked her up on a Saturday night. Yes, that gorgeous lady is still in there somewhere, but now you’ll have to get acquainted with the stinky chick who just came home from the gym, and the testy woman who’s too preoccupied with the Weiner account to succumb to your frisky antics. Know this and accept it before going in.

Your Sex Life Will Change

Not every night will end with the two of you naked, sticky, and sweaty. “When you live apart, you make time for sex—any minute you can get your hands on each other, you do,” says Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and advice columnist. “But when you’re around one another all the time, the frequency of sexual activity may taper off.

“The solution,” Levkoff says, “is still making time for intimacy but changing your expectations. Realize that you can be intimate without having intercourse.”

This means you’ll need to accept the transition from hardware to software: less bonking, more spooning.

Gentlemen, Start Your Swiffers

Divvying up domestic chores is one of the first things a cohabiting couple needs to discuss. Forget equality. “Everything doesn’t have to be fifty-fifty,” says Andrew Cherlin, Ph.D., author of The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage and Public and Private Families: An Introduction. “If one of you works 50 hours a week and the other 25, there’s nothing wrong with the less busy person taking on more of the housework.”

Reduce the tension and tedium by volunteering for housework that doesn’t drive you crazy. My buddy Josh hates washing silverware, but unlike most people, he doesn’t mind scrubbing pots and pans. So after dinner he tackles the heavy metal while his wife merrily tends to the flatware. Compromises like this make a relationship work.

Love is Annoying

It’s inevitable: Now that you’re living together, you’re gradually going to discover each other’s irritating habits. She makes a weird noise while she sleeps; you fart with abandon.

“One way to soften the blow is to try living together for a spell before you actually move in,” Levkoff advises. “Just make sure it’s a normal, mundane week so you’ll get a real feel for what the morning rush is like, what the dishwashing situation is like.”

The key, no matter how long you’ve been living together: When confronted with one of those fingernails-on-the-chalkboard-of-life moments, don’t let it slide. But resist the urge to bite her head off.

Wynne Whitman, coauthor of Shacking Up, prefers a gentler, more constructive approach. “Instead of yelling, ‘Why the hell do you always leave your briefcase on the floor?’ try saying, ‘It makes me very happy when you put your briefcase away.’ This phrasing makes your roomie think she’s doing you a favor, and it doesn’t seem like a chore.”

You’re Not Engaged—Yet

There is a subtext to this move. According to the Annual Review of Sociology, about 75 percent of cohabiting couples say they plan to marry their partners. Additionally, 55 percent of marriages today are preceded by cohabitation.

But not every couple who live together are destined to walk down the aisle together. “We interviewed a woman who assumed that moving in with her boyfriend was an engagement,” Whitman recalls. “But she never actually spoke to her boyfriend about it. When she found out he didn’t want to marry her, she was heartbroken.”

Like it or not, when you move in with your girlfriend, you’re sending a message: “I’m ready to settle down.” Unless you’ve made it clear that living together is not a formal engagement, she’s likely to think there’s a diamond ring in her immediate future.

Your Problems are Wedlocked

Live-in couples have to deal with many of the same issues spouses do. One of the thorniest is keeping the relationship fresh. Because you’re no longer dating, it’s crucial that you maintain the relationship’s fun factor. For starters, don’t become too reliant on one another.

“It’s really important not to put all your eggs in one basket,” says Whitman. “Often, people make the mistake of giving up all their other relationships just because they’re living with someone. You need to spend time apart to appreciate the time you spend together.”

Live and Learn—Together

You may discover, as I did, that your girlfriend’s good qualities more than make up for her uselessness as a mover. Or you may find that her insistence on replacing the toilet-paper roll so it feeds from the bottom is too much for you to take. Either way, you’re in this together. Find a way to get over, through, or around every obstacle and your relationship may evolve into something even more wonderful than convenient sex.

“There’s a misconception that people who cohabit never want to get married,” says Whitman. “I disagree. I think, on the contrary, they want to make sure they have only one marriage. They want to make sure this is the right person before they commit.”

And before they have to lug all those boxes back down 13 flights of stairs.

via http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/relationship_tips_cohabitation/printer.php

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