As a modern dating expert who empowers women to take control of their love lives, I think it's time we stop clinging to the old ideal that you must wait until you're married to move in together. The reality is that two-thirds of married couples live together before tying the knot so the question that now needs to be answered is not IF you should move in together but rather WHEN and HOW.
Although 48 percent of women now move in with their mate as a first step before getting married only 40 percent of cohabitating couples actually tie the knot. So, if you want to get the keys before the ring, here are the six crucial questions to ask before moving in to avoid becoming a shacking up statistic.
1. Why Are We Moving In Together?
You must be able to tell if this is a step towards marriage or a coupling of convenience. Many times women think that moving in means that he's that much closer to making you his wife yet maybe all that's going through his head is, "Sweet! I can save half of my rent." Or worse yet, "Great! Now I have someone who can help me clean up this pig sty."
2. Do You Want Children?
Think talking about kids is putting the cart before the horse? When you consider that 20 percent of cohabitating women get knocked up in the first year, you might want to have that conversation so you know whether or not he'll leave you holding the baby if you become an "oops" statistic.
3. How Are We Handling the Financial Obligations?
Money is one of the top three things that couples fight about. When you're co-mingling money before you're married you need to be clear on who's paying the bills and managing the money. Determine whether you're splitting the costs 50/50 or divvying it up another way.
4. Your Place or Mine?
It's always best to start off in a new, neutral space where you can establish your areas and routines from scratch. I remember how hard it was when my husband moved into my place and I had to give up part of my precious walk-in closet. It's hard not to become territorial -- even towards someone you love -- when you suddenly have to share something you had all to yourself before.
5. When Should We Check In Again?
The times when I've seen co-habitation really backfire with dating coaching clients is when the couple had no understanding of where things were headed and no timeline during which they agreed to reevaluate their living situation. While your engagement ring resentment is starting to fester, your man might be thinking everything is going great, and if you two aren't talking about it your relationship is doomed to fail.
6. What Happens If We Break Up?
A pre-nup can be a buzz-kill but sometimes it's necessary. Have a clear understanding -- ideally in writing -- of which assets you retain (from puppies to property). This will make it easier to split amicably if it comes to a real split. If you're unmarried and living together, most laws would label you as simply roommates, so it's your responsibility to protect your assets while following your heart.
I love that women can now choose their lifestyle without judgment. You will not be a slut if you move in with him before marriage. You will not be a fool if you live with someone but never get married. You will not be a spinster if you decide to live alone forever. But living together out of convenience is not the same as making a conscious choice about how you want to live your life. You must ask these crucial questions before moving in to make sure you're taking this major step mindfully.
For more modern dating advice tune in to the Dates & Mates Radio Show every Wednesday at 11 a.m. PT on UBN Radio and read daily tips on dating and relationships at DatesandMates.com.