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Make sure expectations are clear before moving in together

10-19-07 Dr. LaurBerman studio......Rich Hein/Sun-Times

10-19-07 Dr. Laura Berman in studio......Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Updated: May 29, 2014 4:30PM

In the past, unmarried couples who lived together were scorned and shamed. Now, cohabitation is an everyday occurrence. In fact, the rates of those living together without the benefit of marriage have increased by more than 900 percent in the last 50 years!

Still, some skeptics say cohabitation is a bad idea. After all, they admonish women, why would he want to marry you if he can “get the milk for the free”? What a loaded statement. Not only does it presume that all women are interested in marriage and that all men want to avoid it, but it treats sex as something women should use as a bargaining chip in a relationship, rather than something two people take part in and mutually enjoy.

If you want a wedding in your future, living together doesn’t have to preclude that. Also, a recent study from at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that living together before marriage doesn’t impact one’s likelihood of divorce, as had been previously thought. Instead, researchers found it was those who married very young who were most likely to split. Most couples need time to get know themselves and develop as adults before they are ready to commit to “happily ever after,” so rushing down the aisle before you have had time to grow and explore isn’t a good idea.

So what does this mean for you? First, make sure that living together really is the commitment you desire. If you want a ring but settle for a shared lease, you are ultimately going to find yourself feeling cheated and rejected down the road. Be sure to talk candidly about your expectations with your partner.

Whatever you do, don’t move in together to save money or get out of a bad financial situation. It’s better to find a roommate or live with a friend than to put that stress on your relationship. Always remember to protect yourself: Put your name on the lease and keep your finances secure in case you need to move out suddenly.

Just because you are in love doesn’t mean you can’t be smart!

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