There are no hard and fast rules for deciding when it's time to move in together. It's a very personal decision for you and the man in your life. In our book Love For Grown Ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying For Life When You've Already Got a Life, we interviewed dozens of women on this subject. Many divorced women are hesitant to move in with someone again. They may feel reluctant to make that kind of commitment or give up their independence. There are so many things to consider when it's grown-up love. As co-author Tish has said, "When you move in together at 21 your stuff fits in a Volkswagen Bug. At 41, it's a seven passenger van!" Making decisions about moving are great opportunities to practice how you'll make decisions as a couple. We know you don't want to go through another split, so here are some things we all agree need to be thought through before you combine addresses:
Is he the person you want to see every morning? If the answer is "yes," that's a great indication that it's time to combine your lives in a very real way. When you both want the deeper connection of sharing physical space and daily life with each other -- including making decisions, participating in each other's work and social lives and bringing together your personalities, habits and lifestyles -- then it's time!
Where are you going to live? Some questions to think about: Do you each own your own place? Does one of you rent and one own? You need to decide which makes the most sense financially as you plan your future together. You must also think about space and proximity to work, children or school. Did either of your former spouses live in the home you're considering sharing? Many women that we spoke to felt that the best thing to do, if feasible financially, is to move into a new home together.
Do you live in the same city? We've interviewed many women who have long distance marriages because of professional considerations and yes, they make their "commuter marriages" work, but that's a different column! If either of you can find or transfer jobs so you both work in the same city, you should do it. But it's not a good idea to pull up stakes completely, quit your job and relocate until you're sure it's going to be for keeps. You might want consider renting or sub-leasing for a year so you can decide if it's the right place for both of you.
Does your divorce decree or custody agreement allow for a move? Before you move in together, it is important to check your agreements to see if there are any stipulations that should be included as part of your planning process Look for provisions that previously weren't applicable to your situation or didn't seem particularly important when the documents were drawn up. For instance, if children are involved and the other parent's permission is necessary to move a child to a different school district or city, your moving might be prohibited altogether.
Who's paying for what? An initial discussion must include what financial responsibilities you each will have for your home and related expenses. If one of you makes more money that the other, discuss how will that affect your lifestyle and decisions in regard to expenses.
How do you each approach saving, spending and investing? If you have different styles in these areas, you have to decide how you will work this out. Do either of you have financial responsibilities for ex-spouses or children? If you're keeping your finances separate, you may feel that what your partner does with his money is his business, but don't forget you are not separate in your future planning.
Though it does take a bit of planning, there isn't anything more exciting that planning your future with the one you love.
When do you think it's the right time in a relationship to make the decision to move in together?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life, a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice on how to have the love and life you want.