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 Sex & Relationships 

Moving In Together

 By Dennis, Dr. Neder
 "Being a Man in a Woman's World"

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This week, let's explore the issues involved in moving in with your significant other.

Some people view this as a prelude to getting married; others see it as a natural "next step" without a further goal. Either way, this is a big commitment on the part of both parties. Of course, I'm talking about setting up house as a couple, not simply sharing housing costs as roommates.

[Preliminary Considerations]

Before you just jump right in and set-up house, you'd better consider what you're really doing here. Moving in together is just like getting married without the format commitment. This is a big step - one you shouldn't take lightly. Just like you shouldn't jump into a marriage, you shouldn't jump into living together.

There are many good reasons to move in together - security, finances, emotional support, etc.; but the primary reason should be to take your relationship to that next level. Many couples do this as a precursor to getting married - something of a "test drive". In fact, I can't imagine why anyone would get married to someone that they haven't lived with first.

Consider, however that statistics show there is a slight increase in the likelihood of divorce among couples that live together before marriage. I believe that this is because many couples find that they aren't as compatible as they first thought, and go ahead with the marriage anyway because that was the goal of moving in together in the first place!

If a couple's goal of moving in together is to test a possible marriage, this should be a clear understanding up front. There should be goals and each partner should have the freedom to say that they are or aren't comfortable getting married. This doesn't mean that the relationship has to break up however! Many relationships work just fine when they aren't constant live-in's. This needs to be understood up front. Just because you can't live with someone doesn't mean that you can't love him or her - and continue seeing each other from different residences.

[How to Get Started]

So, how do you go about setting this up? First - TALK! I've seen too many couples that just agree to move in together like roommates and then try to work out the details after the move. Don't do this! Both you and your lover deserve the luxury of having the details worked out in advance. Spend some time, and commit your agreements to paper (see below for some links that may help here). This doesn't have to be a formal, notarized document - just something you can refer to now and in the future when questions arise - and they WILL arise!

Next, consider your present situation. If one or both of you own a home, you may want to rent one or both of them out and establish a "neutral ground" for the new relationship. On the other hand it may be preferable to move into one home and sell the other. Consider all the factors in making this decision: length of time left on the mortgages or leases, the monthly payments, upkeep costs, taxes, size and age of the home, condo or apartment, and of course; location, location, location!

Next, consider your possessions. If you're moving into one partner's place, it isn't reasonable for the partner moving to just throw everything away and move in. There is going to have to be some type of "merger" of property. What isn't brought into the new home may be placed in storage. Further, things that were there before the move-in may also be put in storage to make room for the new things. The key to making this work is compromise from both partners. Few people want their things removed, or to have to do without things they are used to. So, find a balance that works before the move occurs.

Before all this happens, both partners should mark their things so that they know who owns what. I recommend that you both create written inventories of what you have - including what is going into your "love nest", what is going into storage, and what is being sold or given away. Yes - I know this isn't very romantic, but consider what you're really doing here - you're creating a business relationship as well as an emotional one. Both things that will be brought into the house as well as things that will be stored should be marked. If you have duplicate things (which is quite likely), you may want to have a garage sale or simply give them away. Remember however, that if things don't work out, you're going to want to have them back or replace them.

[Other Considerations]

Frankly, there are too many other possible issues to consider than can be listed in a single article. However, some of the things you should decide up front include:

* Who is responsible for what chores?

* What about kids - those that live with you and those that visit?

* What about pets - if both people have pets, are they compatible?

* Who decides on decorating?

* What about space and closet needs?

* Will you have separate telephones, computers, etc?

* What about office space? If one or both of you work from home, you may need to separate offices.

* What about privacy? Moving in together doesn't mean that you have to open up every possible aspect of your life.

* What about solitude - most of us need some "alone time" just to remain sane.


Moving in together is as much a financial consideration as it is an emotional one. One partner usually earns more than the other, and may be expected to cover a larger share of the expenses. This is fine, but there is likely to be some expectation of return from the partner contributing less - usually in household work.

What about bank accounts? You might want to check with an accountant and/or attorney to decide what works best for your particular situation. However, I strongly recommend that you don't merge all of your accounts into joint accounts. If one or more joint accounts make sense for your particular situation, you may want to keep your existing accounts and create one or two others: a checking account (for paying bills) and a savings/investment account. Then both partners contribute their share into the account(s) from which bills are paid, investments made, assets are purchased, etc.

[Correcting the Mistake]

Oh brother! This is much more difficult than making the initial decision to move in together! Thus, it is much better to have not done it in the first place. Of course, that piece of wisdom doesn't help you much if you've already done it. So, let's look at the things you need to know:

Moving out can be just as traumatic as getting a divorce - especially if you've been together awhile. Consider, that you've probably purchased things together, have joint bills, and possibly joint bank accounts. All of these have to be split. Further, at least one partner has to move (possibly both partners), and set-up a new home elsewhere. And, of course, there is all the emotion involved.

During the time you've been together, you've both enjoyed a number of benefits - probably two incomes, two people supporting the household, two people paying the bills, etc. Usually, one partner makes more than the other and contributes more financially. Sometimes, the other partner makes up for this by performing additional work. Sometimes however, this isn't the case - and most times, both partners feel that they have contributed more than the other.

I recommend that you forget all of this and concentrate on the process of the splitting up the household. Consider that the person moving is going to need funds to get set-up again. How you split your assets is up to you, but I suggest this: be generous in the giving, meager in the expecting, and appreciative in the receiving. Yes - easier said than done, but it will go a long way to getting this split finished. If you're still going to stay together as a couple after all this, it will probably be much simpler than if you're breaking up the relationship. Remember: you got together in the first place. There was something you saw in the other person. Concentrate on the benefits you've both gained and try, try to make it easier on your partner - they deserve at least this much!

Also, don't bring friends into this breakup. They will be traumatized by it all anyway. There is no need to make it more difficult for them (and ultimately for yourself). You may want to ask them to help you move, but don't expect them to hate or dislike your (ex-)partner. They will have probably established a relationship with this person, and deserve the same respect for it, that they have given you. In short, don't try to pit your friends against your ex.

[Final Thoughts]

Moving in with your lover is a tricky, problematic event. Unfortunately, love isn't enough to make it work. Consider my 7 "P's": "Proper, prior planning prevents piss-poor performance". I know it isn't romantic, but I strongly urge you to create a "Cohabitation Agreement". This doesn't have to be 50 pages long, nor cost you thousands in attorney fees. Here are links to a couple of simple ones on the Internet: (you can do your own search if you prefer)

You may want to download one or both of these documents and modify them to suit your needs. After you've set the "ground rules", you might want to have a lawyer review it to make sure that it will continue to protect you and your partner.

There is a wealth of information on the web about the issues I've discussed in this article. You might want to go to your favorite search engine and look for web pages that discuss "Cohabitation" or "living together" and see what you can find. As long as both partners have a good understanding of the other's goals and expectations in moving in together, the possible pitfalls, and the benefits, this can be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life.

Good luck!

Copyright (c) 2005, Dr. Dennis W. Neder All rights reserved. Remington Publications For more information about my book, "Being a Man in a Woman's World", visit: P.O. Box 10702 Glendale, CA 91209-3702 (818) 246-2058 Fax (818) 246-5431
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uthor of: Being a Man in a Woman's World
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Moving in with your lover is a tricky, problematic event. Unfortunately, love isn't enough to make it work.

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