- I cooked what I wanted when I wanted.
- I didn’t cook if I didn’t want to.
- If I was broke, it was my fault and no one else’s.
- I didn’t have to ask someone else if they liked the sofa against this wall or that one
- or discuss what colour to paint the living room.
I made all of the decisions and I took all of the responsibility for all of them.
And I liked it. Alot!
That’s probably why my boyfriend and I stayed in the dating stage a lot longer than the average couple. He also had been on his own for a long time. We talked about living together at times over the years but we never seemed to get very far in the conversation. It was clear that neither of us were ready and we were happy with the relationship the way it was.
But after 10 years of dating, we finally decided that it was time to take our relationship to the next level and I have to tell you, I was nervous.
To be honest, I sort of forgot how to live with someone.
Let’s face it, we aren’t 22 years old anymore and the older we get, the more we get set in our ways. There would be a lot of things to figure out and a lot of compromising was on the horizon. I knew I was a very good – no – I was a great girlfriend, but could I be a “wife” again.
NOT that I was planning to be a “wife” per se but you know what I mean.
This next step in a relationship is exciting no matter your age and love can be intoxicating and blinding. Very often, you get so wrapped up in the excitement that you only see the good and forget to look behind the curtain for the bad and the ugly. And bad and ugly there will be.
But if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance at love and feel that you’re ready to take that next step – again – take a minute to realize that there are things to consider now that weren’t there the first time.
1. Location, location, location
Do you both own a home? If so, does one sell and move into the other’s home? Would the new resident feel more like a guest?
Or do you both sell and get a new (neutral) place? If you do that, do you both go on title? Sharing a mortgage is taking the next level to another whole level.
Talk about the options and weigh them together. Be considerate of how you both are feeling, the last thing you want is for one to feel they were bullied into the arrangement.
My boyfriend moved to my town north of the city (about 80 km away from his place) and I spent the whole first year convinced that he regretted leaving the West End. It made me anxious and afraid all of the time. Finally, during an argument of all things, he hollered that he was an adult and wouldn’t have moved here if he didn’t want to. I haven’t worried about it since and we are both happier.
2. What will the kids think?
I’m not suggesting that you get “permission” from the kids to follow your heart and be happy. Frankly, the kids are probably grown now or at least teenagers. But I do think it’s important to find out how everyone feels, especially if any kids are going to be living with you. The whole household and family dynamic is about to change and expectations should be managed, ground rules made and boundaries set.
I had to make sure that my boyfriend understood that living with me also meant living with teenagers and was he willing to take that on? Teenagers with all their messiness, moodiness and smelliness! Kudos to him for diving into that pool!
3. Make sure you’ve had at least three good fights
This might sound dumb but if you haven’t fought yet, do NOT move in together yet. Why? Because you WILL fight when you’re living together and you want to have at least a little experience. If you haven’t had a fight yet, you may blame the first one on the new living arrangement sabotaging any chance you have of success. I only suggest at least three because then you experience more than one scenario.
We went in with fighting experience and let me tell you, we gained a whole lot more fighting experience that first year living together. And I truly believe that our relationship is stronger for it.
4. Talk about money
Seriously, talk about how things are going to work financially. Unlike when we were first graduating college, we are likely going into this new living arrangement with assets, money and debt. Full disclosure is in order. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be getting financially involved. Lay it all out on the table – how the bills are going to be paid, who is owns what, will beneficiaries be changing or wills updated? Put it all on paper in a cohabitation agreement and then there is one less thing to fight about.
Oh yes, we have a cohabitation agreement!
5. Check your baggage
No one reaches 50 years old without some baggage. Family baggage, financial baggage and emotional baggage. Recognize it, own it and learn to work through it. Get professional help if you need it.
Again, full disclosure is important because not being honest with your partner about any baggage that you’re bringing into the home is not fair. That’s just setting yourselves up to fail. You are going to create enough of your own new baggage together so you need to clean out as much of the old baggage as you can.
With every new relationship comes new baggage so clear out a corner of your mind to make room for it.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net