I remember when “Martin” the TV series first aired in 1992. There was controversy around the television show because it was the first time viewers watched an unmarried couple cohabiting. My family at the time thought the idea of cohabiting was fopaux. How dare people of the opposite sex, who are obviously having sex, live together before marriage? My parents went as far to ban my brother and I from watching the disgusting show. Needless to say we always found a way to watch it, and eventually all the hoopla was forgotten (“Martin” was hilarious!!). Considering how society has changed, cohabiting mates are understood and sometimes even encouraged. I can’t say my parents have become fans of the idea, but it’s one of those things they’ve learned to deal with. Naturally parents, especially old-school parents, have a concern that living together eliminates the thought of marriage. In their minds, or at least the minds of my parents, their especially concerned about males eliminating the thought of marriage. True???
A couple who considers cohabiting should also consider marriage, if that is what either the couple desires or one party desires. If a couple has not discussed marriage, or if one party is opposed to marriage, cohabiting is probably not the best idea.
I’ve heard folks say that living together before marriage will help couples realize they actually didn’t like their mate, let alone want to spend the rest of their lives with them. My theory is, cohabiting works for some but not for all. To each his or her own. I must say that it’s working for me as my boyfriend and I decided to live together a few months ago. It’s been a refreshing experience that’s helped me realize how much I love him, but also it’s allowed me to learn so much about myself.
I guess this post is for those who are thinking about cohabiting with their mate, but are unsure. Allow me to enlighten you with a few lessons I’ve already learned.
1. Find a place that says “ours” and not “yours” – To this day my Mom is not a fan of couples living together before marriage, but she did give me some sound advice years ago before a mate even existed for me to live with. She said to make sure my mate and I find a place together or at least have both names on the lease if you’re renting. This is important just in case things go awry and the happy home is no longer happy. She stressed that if it is a place of “ours” then both parties have to either move or work something out, rather than one party being kicked out. One other important thing she mentioned is that if you’re buying a house together, you should be married. Buying property when mates are not married can be tricky. Again, if the once happy home is no longer happy, things can get ugly quick!
2 – Continue to do you! – It is easy to lose sight of your routine when living with a mate for the first time. Still make time to do the things you enjoy doing. Of course include your mate when able, but keep sight of the things you used to enjoy when your were living solo. I am guilty of this as I used to find more time to write. However, for a while I did not write because I didn’t feel it, but obviously that’s changed.
3 – Lastly remember that it is no longer about you! – Boy was this a lesson for me! I was so accustomed to doing things for myself, by myself. Now I have someone to help me and share things with me. Women, especially, we have to learn when to let go; stop being stubborn and listen. As women we’ve been taught to be the “independent woman,” but if you have a mate that you love and want to hold on to, that independent woman stuff is not always necessary. This was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I’m admittedly still working on it. This does not mean you still can’t be strong and independent in some things, but check yourself sometimes. A good mate will quickly show you he’s there to love and help you, not hurt you.
Living together is a big step, and requires maturity and preparation. Make sure you are ready for this type of commitment and make sure you are not in it alone. There’s nothing worse than moving in with someone who thinks they’re ready, but are not. Don’t go crazy and move in with every Tom, Dick, and Harry (Tania, Donna, Heather :)). Most importantly, don’t rush it if you have that little person in the back of your mind steadily warning you. Be smart! Dating Do!