Live With Someone

Living with someone you love -- and not wanting to kill them afterwards!

Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.

He's just not that into you.

So-called 'self-help'-related relationship literature is clearly in demand: such titles often dominate the best-seller lists. The advice about how to snag a man could fill many bins of half-price books at many a Barnes & Noble (most relationship literature is directed at women). But the question of how to live with a man or a woman is less often written about, perhaps because once the initial sexual attraction dies down, the issues at stake between the members of the couple become far more complex. Living with someone is a personal test for each partner's self-esteem, as well as a test of the relationship. Each person must conduct a soul-searching inventory of his or her own personal habits and dreams, and make sacrifices.

How to live with someone (and still love them)

Step 1: Be honest about your 'experience level' living with a roommate

Few Generation X or Y-ers have ever had to share a room, except perhaps in college or at camp. Fewer people share rooms with siblings than in the past and even colleges now offer more singles than ever before. Everyone must eventually learn the sad lesson at some point: you might like or love someone, but not like or love LIVING with that person. For example, one of you might be a night person while the other person might be a morning person. One of you might be messy, while the other might be neat. Financial changes in living conditions might be required as well. One partner may insist on organic strawberries, while the other feels that store brand Pop Tarts are an acceptable and affordable breakfast. One partner may expect to finally invest or improve the home or apartment more than the other person, and this too can become a source of conflict.

To live with someone requires a sacrifice not just of extra room in the bathroom, but also your sense of self and some of your personal priorities. If you have never lived with someone, expect changes -- and expect a great deal of negotiation.

Step 2: Be honest about how your family and friends feel

More and more people are living with one another before marriage. In fact some consider it wise to do so and even research supports the idea that, at very least 'trying out' a living situation does not significantly raise the likelihood of divorce. In fact, a survey of 13,000 men and women between the ages of 15 to 44 found that 71% of men and 65% of women who were engaged when they moved in with their future partner were married ten years later, compared with 69% and 66%, respectively, who did not cohabit before marriage (Connolly 2010).

However, some more traditional families still oppose the practice. Even if both of you are 'grown-ups' it can be difficult to deal with entrenched opposition to cohabitation from family members. Openly addressing the anger or resentment of family members because of your 'living situation' -- whether because you are cohabiting or because one of you is from a different social, ethnic, religious, racial background -- is a good idea. Even if the couple says family approval is insignificant, cutting off ties from family is seldom emotionally or practically realistic. Inviting both sets of parents over for dinner or simply to see your new place is a way of fostering peace and harmony, rather than friction.

Step 3: Look before you leap: Set the rules before you move in Chores, chores, chores: chores are often the leading source of marital discord, and the fighting is likely to begin before marriage. A predictable…