You have been in a steady relationship for quite some time and you find yourself spending more and more time with your partner.
You have frequent sleepovers at your partner’s place and perhaps you are wondering if moving in with him is a good idea. In most cases cohabiting happens by accident and a couple moves in together without any discussion about their long-term future.
However, in the ideal situation, you should only move in together after a discussion during which you evaluate whether you are ready for this step. Here are some tips to help you make this important decision.
The conversation: “Never move in before you’ve had the ‘where are we going?’ talk. Similarly, if you’re not on the same page about things like your future studies, career ambitions, and so forth, don’t move in,” says Dr Chris Hart, a Nairobi-based psychologist.
He further cautions against moving in together before you fully explore the things that would break you up. For instance, he says, beware of your partner’s money habits.
“Do you know if your partner is a spender, saver, financially secure, or in debt? How will you share financial household obligations? Will you run a joint bank account for rent, food and bills?”
PREPAREDENESS AND ANXIETY
Preparedness and anxiety: Are you afraid that it might not work? Well, according to Arielle Kuperberg an assistant professor of sociology and author of Does Premarital Cohabitation Raise Your Risk of Divorce?, you shouldn’t move in with your partner unless you have matured enough to make a thorough independent evaluation of your choice.
She points out that cohabiting before the age of 23 as one of the factors that precipitate a divorce once the cohabitation graduates into a full marriage.
“Cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce and probably never did. What leads to divorce is when people move in with someone before they have the maturity and experience to choose compatible partners and to conduct themselves in ways that can sustain a long-term relationship,” says Kuperberg.
Independence: According to Ken Munyua, a counselling psychologist based in Nairobi, moving in with someone shouldn’t be the end of your independence.
“Be careful to have your own independent thoughts, experiences and friendships. It is such attributes that will keep you attractive to your partner.
Similarly, be clear on what your contributions will be in the new stage of your relationship to avoid falling into the dependence valley,” he says.
Trials: According to Psychology Today, you may consider running a trial to see if you can manage to cohabit without the friction that leads to a break-up. “Plan to spend at least a month in each other’s place.
Your habits will vary depending on how much you feel like you’re in your own space,” says the journal. “Additionally, you will be able to see how each of you truly lives.”
Conflict resolution: The way you resolve conflicts is a key indicator of how stable the relationship is and whether it can withstand tension.
According to Sarah Gacheru, a family therapist, you should examine how you have both behaved in times of major disagreements in your relationship and how you have fought and resolved issues. “Do you fight fair or do you allocate blame or expose your dirty linen to all and sundry?
Your previous reactions will determine how you will resolve tougher conflicts that erupt when you’re both in close quarters,” she says.
Marriage: If your partner is not interested in marriage, do not move in as a way of wooing him. This is especially true for women who once they move in with a man, are likely to view him as a lifelong partner or even as a husband.
However, if the guy doesn’t see her in the same light, fallouts could occur that would make him walk out. “Find out whether you are on the same page and what living together means to him before making the decision to move in,” cautions Munyua.