Cohabitation also known as “living in sin” or in my native tongue “Kuchaya mapoto” is the state of living together as a couple and having a sexual and or romantic relationship without being married.
People cohabitate for different reasons…
Some may cohabitate because of economical reasons. With the rising cost of living in the UK with most people not becoming home owners until the age of 33. It now makes sense to more and more people that once you’ve found someone you can be committed to, to focus on establishing foundations such as home ownership before getting married.
Some people cohabitate to test the strength of the relationship before jumping the broom. They place importance on making an informed decision before vowing to be with someone for better or for worse.
Some people don’t believe in marriage and cohabitation this the highest level of commitment that they want and are comfortable with.
UK statistics show that Cohabitation has become the second most common family type in the UK next to married couples and it is the fastest growing category.
“While married couple families remain the most common, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type as people increasingly choose to live together before, or without, getting married...
The number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018….
Married and civil partner couple families were the most common family type in the UK in 2018, representing two-thirds (67.1%) of all families. Cohabiting couple families were the second-largest family type at 3.4 million (17.9%), followed by 2.9 million (15%) lone parent families. Since 2008, the share of married couple families has declined from 69.1% of all families, while the share of cohabiting couple families has increased from 15.3%….https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2018
I’ve been living with A for almost 2 years. We first started living together almost exactly a year after we met. When he first suggested it to me I was very apprehensive because the arrangement we had was working very well but, from the outset A had always said that he was looking to settle down.
I eventually said yes and we have been living together ever since.
I’ve lived with men before. Throughout Uni I had male housemates, one of which was a boyfriend so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.
To say the least, I was wrong.
Nothing can really prepare you for sharing your space with someone else. In the last 2 years there have been some pleasant surprises and some hilarious realisations but all in all I’m of the mind that all of the things I’ve had to learn are things you need to know if you’re going to have your relationship become more serious.
Imagine agreeing to marry someone and finding out that they don’t value family as much as you do? Or that they believe in gender roles and hate leftovers so you’re cooking everyday after work 7 days a week.
Living together isn’t easy but to me it’s a crucial step to take before marriage because living with your partner allows you to get to know them in new and important ways.
Brace yourself because no matter how well you think you know your person. There are a few things that you can only learn by living with them.
- How Clean They Are
We were all taught or not taught how to clean by different people. So the way you think the kitchen should look after it’s clean won’t necessarily align with your persons. Petty arguments about cleaning the kitchen sink taps until ALL the limescale is gone will arise.
Living together highlights this particularly well because even when you date for a long period of time and visit each others spaces you’re still not behaving as you would in your own space because you’re still just a (sexy) guest.
When you live together the thing we all hope for is a clean person that’s not too much Monica Gellar with the weekly spring cleans or too Joey Tribiani with the spaghetti on the rug.
As with everything involved within a relationship the best way to resolve cleaning disputes is to communicate. Luckily A and I are quite laid back in general about how clean the house should be. I have a thing about the bathroom, the bedroom and the skirting boards so I take charge there. He’s particular about the living room and the kitchen so that’s where he heads the cleaning charge.
It took a couple of petty arguments( that still happen to this) for us to get here though so be patient.
It’ll be 2 years living together for us in November and even now we’re still figuring this out.
2. How Financially Responsible/Comfortable They Really Are
We’ve all been there. You start seeing someone new they excite you and you forget that you’re saving for a new car or for the deposit for a house. You spend money like it grows on trees in the honeymoon phase and that is excusable.
Once the dust settles you can get an indication of how well your person manages their money when you go on dates, plan baecations etc. However, this can be easily faked as well because who is to say they aren’t taking you to Hakkasan insisting on paying the bill then begging their Mum for grocery and transport money for the rest of the month?
No matter how many Hakkasan dates and bae cations they take you on you won’t really know how responsible (or irresponsible) they are with money until you start depending on them to pay half the rent and bills.
Your person could be the type that’s addicted to Klarna and Clearpay and is okay living in debt because they don’t have any long term goals.
But on the flip side your person could be the type to send you an itemised spreadsheet of all the expenses at the end of the month and expect you to pay the £2.50 to replace the Utterly Butterly they prefer over the Olive Spread
Conversations centred around money can be very awkward. When A and I met I was a student and he had been working full time since he was 18.
He had A LOT more money than me and I found it hard to accept his help when he offered and to even ask for his help when I really needed it.
I realised quickly that we were both socialised around money very differently. My mum drilled in financial independence into me asking her for help was never an option I had to make my pocket money last or I’d have no money for nice things.
A on the other hand grew up with his mum and family being quite ready to help each other out when it was needed.
Consolidating these two socialisations once we lived together was hard. I was quite guarded about my money and he was very open to the point of disclosing my salary to his friends once I started my grad job.
We’ve learned how to meet in the middle now I’m not guarded about my money anymore and he doesn’t spill the beans about our situation to family and friends. So sharing bills rent and debts has become so much easier.
The key as always was balance
3. Sex VS Real Life
When you don’t live together you can compartmentalise sex and your real life. You can go to your babes’ house and enjoy your time together and forget about what’s going on back home.
When you live together however the sex changes. It’s great because you understand each other’s bodies better so the sex is amazing but the romance goes away. You really have to try to make an effort to be romantic or it can seem like you’re taking your other half for granted.
Spicing up your sex life is key. Being purposeful with the act and not allowing outside distractions is the best way around it.
When A and I met we were long long distance. Leeds- Colchester. It was a 4 hour drive or a 4 hour train journey with 4 changes. We would see each other 2/4 times a month.
Prolonged absences and foreplay via FaceTime and sexy photos really helped to build the sexual tension and romantic expectation so that by the time we saw each other it was always fireworks.
Now that we live together the fireworks are still there but we have to work much harder for them. Mood lighting and sex playlists as well as being deliberately romantic has helped keep up the heat.
So resist the urge to complain about how council tax has become more expensive this year just after you orgasm and add some new songs to your sex playlist.
We do go through occasional ruts because of important arguments about our careers, money and commitments outside of us like family but we always work our way back to that initial chemistry.
4. Sharing and Compromise
This one seems dumb. We all got taught how to share when we were little and as adults we should have a good grasp on how to do this fairly.
When you live with someone you have to share everything. Your bed, your sofa, the bathroom, the refrigerator in a much different way than you would in your family home or with any housemates you may have had in the past.
The difference is that there is a hierarchy in your family home and house shares are a jungle with no rules and general chaos.
You and your partner are equals (or at least should be) this means that except for the spare room that you’ve turned into an office no one really has a 100% say on what goes on in the house.
It stretches from little things like not finishing all the ice cream cones because your partner doesn’t snack as often as you do and all the way to choosing the kind of house you want to buy together.
How me and A share was truly tested when we moved to Manchester and went furniture shopping. We have similar tastes but the difference was still large enough to cause a little friction.
If I had my choice our living room would be grey with rose gold accents and little cute chackyas laying around. However A isn’t a fan of pink so we had to settle for grey and black with gold accents .
But in order to maintain peace I recognised how important it was for him to make decisions about major pieces of furniture in the house. I’m a little more decoratively inclined so I get final say on things like rugs and paintings etc.
Living together is a great way to test if your person has the necessary negotiating, communication and compromise levels in order to build a family with you.
Bringing two people together means that a lot of the time you will not get your own way and that can be a tough adjustment if the other person doesn’t have any give and is super stubborn.
One of the best aspects of sharing a home with someone you really care about is learning to compromise not because you think that you have to, but because you genuinely feel that making sure your partner feels happy is more important than making sure you get everything you want, every single time.
Its not all seriousness and adulting though. There are some great things about living together.
- Its Cheaper.
This is the main cause for cohabitation and it really speak for itself.
2. Its a great way to test the strength of your relationship if marriage is a final goal.
3. Its a great way to show you’re wholly committed to someone if marriage isn’t something you want for yourself.
My house got burgled 3 times when I lived in Leeds and that has left me with PTSD. If I didn’t live with A i would probably have a housemate or two and its a lot harder to force your housemates to clean up after themselves. Oh and he’s a great spider killer
5.You grow together.
One marker of a successful relationship is growing and evolving together. A lot of people drift apart from past loves because they don’t grow together. Having your person by your side helps keep you on your feet as they challenge you to achieve your goals. We all need coaches and motivators, and when that person lives with you, it’s almost impossible not to achieve any goal.
6. Endless cups of tea.
We’re both tea lovers so it’s great to have someone to make me tea and just do small little gestures for me. Breakfast in Bed? Yes pls.
7. You live with your best friend.
Late night chats with A are my favourite. We speak more honestly and laugh the hardest when its just me and him cuddled up in the dark.
8. You get to see them everyday.
Coming home to A will never get old. Even during quarantine waking up to him everyday hasn’t gotten old.
9. You’ll Gain Insight into One Another’s Sexual Appetites
Once you live together, you’re able to be sexually intimate every day, if you like. And if you don’t want to get down every day, it’s good to learn that before you tie the knot. You’ll get to know each other’s level of desire and find a balance in terms of frequency so you can both feel good about your sexual life together.
10. You never run out of socks. As the designated sock thief in my house I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the endless supply of socks in A’s sock drawer
Living with someone is hard and personally its not a hardship that I want to got through once I’ve said my I dos in front of friends and family. I feel like if I cant make the decision to commit to someone for all their good and bad before marriage then once I am married I’ll feel like I’m more committed to being married than being with the person I’ve made the commitment to.