A relationship expert weighs in on chores, joint accounts and gross habits.
Marriage rates have dropped severely since the early 90s, but that’s not to say that love has evaporated into thin air.
According to relationship support charity Relate, the changing nature of relationships – namely the fact that more people are living together and waiting a lot longer to tie the knot – could be responsible for this.
Chris Sherwood, chief executive for the charity, said: “Many couples now decide to pursue education, careers, have children or buy a house and then think about marrying a bit later on.
“It all depends on what your priorities are as a couple and is far less dependent on what’s expected by society – the British Social Attitudes survey shows most people see little difference between marriage and living together.”
In light of the nation loving a bit of cohabitation, we spoke to Relate counsellor Arabella Russell about the dos and don’ts of living with a partner. Here’s what she had to say…
DON’T move in together just because it makes financial sense or because it’s what all your mates are doing.
For Russell, it’s important that you both really want this and feel as ready for it as possible. “If not, then you are taking quite a big risk which may or may not pay off,” she adds.
DO keep enjoying your separate interests.
“Just because you are moving in together, it doesn’t mean you need to spend every second together,” she explains. “By seeing some friends on your own or doing an exercise class that you enjoy, you’ll have more to talk about when you come home and enjoy a greater sense of freedom and fulfilment.”
DON’T assume it’s easier to live with someone than be married to them.
“Whether you’re married or not, learning to live alongside another person is a process of transition and adjustment,” says Russell.
DO talk things through if something is bothering you.
“If you let things fester it’s likely to lead to a full blown row or, worse, built-up resentment,” she adds. “Check in regularly to discuss any issues to do with the house and finances and be as open and honest as possible.”
DON’T think you know everything about your partner before you move in together.
Russell says: “It’s pretty much a given that they’ll have some surprising or even disgusting habits that you hadn’t bargained for. But the good news is, there will be things that gross them out about you too.”
DO consider a joint bank account for bills and rent.
“At the same time, avoid putting pressure on your partner if this feels like too big a step for them,” says the Relate counsellor. “If you have a joint account you can still keep your own personal accounts too so that you maintain some financial freedom.”
DON’T automatically divide up household chores in a way that plays up to gender stereotypes.
“Instead, talk through what household chores you’d prefer to do in an ideal world and reach a compromise that suits you both.”
DO seek support if things aren’t working for you.
“And the sooner the better before things spiral out of control. Relate provides impartial, non-judgmental counselling for individuals and couples,” adds Russell.
DON’T be inconsiderate to other flatmates.
“If you’re cohabiting but sharing with others, try to keep the place tidy and leave the noisy sex for when they are out of the house,” she warns. “If there’s tension with your flatmates, it’s likely to pile extra pressure on your relationship.”
By:Relate counsellor Arabella Russell/ Chief Executive of Relate Chris Sherwood