Should My Partner and I Move in Together?
The Living Together Quiz
1. Why are we moving in together?
___Because of having financial issues
___We're trying out a "pre-marriage"
___I'm hoping that living together will "fix" a problem
___I fear I'll lose my partner
___We feel like it's the "next step"
2. How long will I live like this?
___Until my doubts go away
___Until we're out of school and on our feet financially
___Until my loneliness or fears go away
___Until I meet someone else
___Until we get engaged or married
3. What are my ideas about commitment?
___I believe in marriage.
___I'm not sure what I believe.
___I think marriage is just a piece of paper.
4. How will we handle our finances and ownerships?
___One of us will carry the financial weight for now.
___We'll both contribute equally to our financial situation.
___I guess we'll figure it out.
___We'll get some legal and/or financial help.
5. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how would I rate my "Proud of Myself" score?
6. I think my partner would also make a great spouse or parent.
7. If I had a child, I would want that child to choose this person as a parent.
There is no magic "score" for these questions. The purpose of this Living Together Quiz is to help you become more aware of yourself. Every situation is different--and life always tosses a wild card that defies research and common sense. But before you pick out that bedspread or argue about colors, couches, and kitchenware, take a look at the answers to each of the questions above.
1-2. If you are not ready to marry your partner, some of the reasons might involve finances, family circumstances, finishing school or waiting for a divorce to be final. But if you are having doubts about your choice of mate, living together might not give you the answers you need. Yes, you might get more information about what a slob he or she is or how much of the time your mate spends watching television, but if you've been observant and spent a lot of time with your partner, you probably have a good sense about these things already.
Living together is not a great tool for solving your problems, curing loneliness or testing the marriage waters. In fact, living together can even postpone or hide issues that might crop up if you do get married. Why? Think of living together as a card game with very low monetary wagers--or none at all. When you move in together before being married, there's less to lose financially, emotionally and legally. As a result, you may not be as fully invested in getting married--if the opportunity were to present itself.
Emotions, emotional commitment, and your partner's unique defenses against getting hurt are also lowered. When you raise the emotional stakes, you also increase your fears, anxiety and maladaptive reactions to loss.
We know ourselves and our partners in the fullest light when we've made less breakable commitments to love. Living together allows you and your partner to hide both your best and worst self under the belief that you can walk out.
Consequently, because you and your partner can still live with your heart half way out the door, you may never fully get to see the "un-edited" version of your live-in. Nothing ventured, nothing gained-and your idea of living together as a "test" for marriage might not reveal enough.
3. Research continues to show that living together does not necessarily guarantee that you will find happiness. There is a world of difference between living together and getting married. Getting married is not just a matter of a piece of paper. It is an event that carries great weight in your national culture, family, and in your state of mind. If you think that marriage is "just a piece of paper that doesn't mean much," then, logically speaking, it shouldn't matter one way or another whether you're married or not.
However, if you do believe in marriage and want it as part of your lifestyle, then another way to learn more about you and your partner is to get engaged for approximately 6 months to a year or a little more. If you are feeling as though you're not ready to be engaged, then I wouldn't generally recommend moving in. "Not ready to move in" may result in "not ready to get married to this person."
Longish engagements raise the emotional ante because they make your relationship real and near. As a result, you and your partner's defenses and problems have a greater chance to be revealed. Broken engagements occur most often because one of the partners has seen behaviors in the other person that they cannot accept.
4. Don't fool yourself into thinking that living together automatically keeps your money separate. You have still entered into a monetary agreement. If you co-own property, pay each other's bills, raise each other's children or live together for a long time, you might incur financial obligations that aren't much different from marital ones. Seeing an attorney before you move in might be a good idea.
5-7. Always do things that make you feel proud. Don't let yourself be "talked into" moving in together. Fast forward your life and imagine your partner as a spouse or parent. If you have children already, it's often very confusing and frightening for children to open up their hearts to a person who doesn't seem "permanent." Children know the difference between a boyfriend or girlfriend and a step-parent. The last thing you want to do is to turn your home into a theater of constantly changing characters.
If you are still in doubt, don't move in together.
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