Whether you’re getting married or have decided to live in (gasp!) sin, the decision to cohabitate is one of the most nerve-wracking, potentially fight-provoking, all-around-scariest things you will do as a couple. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:
1. The Money-Saver Move-In: The recession is kicking everyone’s ass, but if the major reasoning behind your decision to shack up is to save money, don’t. Living together, while fun, is also hard work and you’re going to need a big fat love connection when things get rough. 2. Romance Meets Finance: I know what you’re thinking—enough with the boring money talk! But it’s imperative that you figure out how you’re going to divvy up the bills before you sign on the dotted line. According to the National Survey of Families and Households, couples who felt money was being handled unfairly were 70 percent more likely to break up than couples who felt things were even. So it’s really important you guys talk this out ahead of time. It’s not as romantic as bickering over where the sofa should go, but it’s far more important if you plan on staying together.
3. The Love Nest: After you make the big decision, ideally, you two should find a place of your own. Because if one of you moves in with the other, you’re going to have some territorial issues—no matter how selfless you might believe yourself to be. Rents being what they are, I realize this isn’t always practical. My boyfriend moved into my very cheap apartment and, as a result, has to deal with a hot pink kitchen, a blood red living room and more books than most libraries.
4. The Art of C-C-C-Compromise: In return for him having to cook in a fuschia kitchen, I tried not to squawk too loudly when my boyfriend carted in an enormous television set and announced we’d be getting cable. (And yes, I’m woman enough to admit that I’m now happy we have both.) You may hate his beer cozy collection, but you’ll have to give up the Hello Kitty toaster if you expect him to get rid of it. Choose your battles carefully.
5. Housework — The Great Divide: Nothing turns you into your mother quicker than moving in with a man. It sucks and it’s not fair, but I don’t know one couple where the male half cleans as much or more than their female partner. One twosome I know deals with this by the dude hiring a maid service twice a month. Another made a chore chart. Still another have an agreed-upon cleaning day each week. However you’re going to handle it, talk about it before you sign that lease because a week’s worth of dirty dishes and a bathroom carpeted with dirty drawers could quickly become a dealbreaker.
6. The Best Part of Living Together: Obviously, that would be the non-stop love-makin’. And if—after haggling over money, helping him hang his vintage Reingold sign over your tasteful, mid-century modern settee and fighting over whose turn it is to mop—you still want to get down, you’ve most likely located a keeper. But before you two crazy kids rip each other’s clothes off with lustful abandon, make a solemn vow to each other that you’ll not take each other for granted. You will keep up with basic grooming. You’ll try not to leave wet towels on the floor. And you’ll never ever throw out his Franklin Mint Star Trek Intergalactic coin collection.
Well, unless he really pisses you off.