Are you ready to take your relationship a step further? Does living together sound exciting to you? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you are definitely heading in the right direction and could consider a live-in relationship. As a couple, you are probably tired of having spent a lot of time over mushy dinner dates and movie outings and trying to maximize your time together. You want to think about living together as it starts getting harder and harder to say goodbye and go back to your home without your significant other.
You want the beautiful moments you spend together to be never-ending and living together seems like the perfect way to make that happen. Besides, it will also give you a glimpse of what your life together would be like if you decide to tie the knot. The best way to deal with the staying-apart pain is to stay together and enjoy each other’s company, by being in a live-in relationship. But there are some rules for a live-in relationship.
Rules? What rules and why, you ask? Well, living together can seem like a fun and adventurous ride at the outset. However, the mundane realities of life can slowly get in the way of all the fun and adventure, leaving you and your partner unhappy and constantly bickering. That’s why it’s imperative to set some boundaries and establish ground rules from the get-go. With insights from life coach and counselor Joie Bose, let’s decode some live-in relationship rules that can ensure everlasting happiness in your cohabited nest.
The Pros And Cons Of Live-In Relationships
What is a live-in relationship? Unless you have emerged from under a rock in a different era Outlander style, you’d already know that a live-in relationship refers to a couple cohabiting without tying the knot. Gone are the days when living together used to rake up a scandal in conservative societies like India or invite quizzical looks even in the modern Western world. Today, it is considered a rite of passage for couples in serious, committed relationships.
For couples who are madly in love but are intimidated by the permanence and pressure brought on by the socially and legally recognized institution of marriage or those who simply consider it an archaic construct, a live-in relationship can be the perfect sweet spot. The two partners, bound by love and not matrimonial rules, can live it up and enjoy the perks of being a serious couple without commitment.
The debate between live-in relationships and marriage will always continue but it’s up to you to choose what you want. We know of a couple that was practically spending all their time together as they worked together, ate all their meals together and attended social gatherings together. They just went to their respective homes to sleep.
They were spending twice as much on rent and realized it made sense for them to lower their costs by moving in. However, a live-in relationship didn’t work out for them as the woman was a neat freak and couldn’t handle any dishes lying around the house even for a few hours and the man was lazy and a bit of a slob and had a system where he did ‘deep cleaning’ once a week. This helped them realize their incompatibility issues and they eventually called it quits. That’s why house rules for couples living together are paramount for the success of the relationship.
Before we get into the finer details of live-in relationship rules, let’s a look at some of its perks and challenges to help you decide whether cohabitation is the right fit for you and your partner:
Pros of living together
A live-in relationship can bring you and your partner closer than ever, and foster different forms of intimacy in the relationship. Here are some of the top benefits of living together that help strengthen a couple’s bond:
1. Goodbyes are a thing of the past
The cycle of meetings and partings comes to an end. No more goodbyes, as you get to sleep together after dinner or movie dates. Since you don’t need to look out for new activities and avenues to be able to spend quality time together, a live-in relationship can also help cut down on your expenses.
2. Starting your day together
Share the first cup of tea or coffee and watch the sunrise together. There is a unique sense of intimacy in starting your day together and being by each other’s side when you’re at your most raw self.
3. Never run out of things to do as a couple
The list of couple’s activities that you can indulge in becomes diverse once you start living together, and most of these things don’t even involve elaborate planning and flawless execution. From cooking together to making small yet thoughtful romantic gestures like bringing your partner breakfast in bed once in a while or making their morning coffee just the way they like it, there are so many ways to show you care for each other.
4. No burden of labels
You get to share your life with the person you love with being bogged down by labels of being married. A live-in relationship allows you the freedom to choose to be together, day after day, rather than sticking with one another just because a piece of paper mandates it so.
5. Privacy and personal space
A live-in relationship also gives you the freedom to do things without anyone invading your privacy. You and your partner can truly be together without any inhibitions brought on by quizzical looks from onlookers. It’s your home, your love nest, and you get to make the live-in relationship rules to define what works for you as a couple and what doesn’t.
6. Handling tricky subjects like money
Money is often a tricky subject for most couples. Once you start living together, discussing money and figuring out how to avoid financial stresses in the relationship becomes non-negotiable. As you share the finances, rent, bills and savings, you learn to work better together as a team.
7. Test your compatibility
Living together will truly test your compatibility as a couple, mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually, and give you a reality check on whether you have what it takes to navigate the ups and downs of life together. In case you decide to get married in the future, you already know what your life together would be like.
Related Reading: While Living In With My Partner I Realised I Could Never Marry Her…
Cons of living together
These pros of living together truly make it seem it is the best arrangement for any couple that is in it for the long haul. However, as with anything in life, a live-in relationship too comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the cons of living together:
1. Breaking up can be harder
If the relationship doesn’t work out, breaking up with someone you live with can be doubly hard. Apart from the emotional toll of ending a long-term relationship, you also have to figure out the logistics of tearing your lives apart and starting afresh.
2. Cheating can deal a blow
Either partner may cheat on the other, and since, unlike a marriage, the relationship isn’t legally secure, infidelity can prove to be a fatal blow to the relationship. This is not to say that marriages are immune to cheating. But the chances of a reconciliation are far less in a live-in relationship.
3. Lack of familial, societal support
Unlike in the case of married couples, families may not stand by you if you have a fight or an argument. There is also very little support from society per se, especially for women in live-in relationships. If things go south, you may pretty much be left to fend for yourself.
4. Children may lack the security net of a family
In case of a pregnancy, the guy can easily walk out, leaving the woman to deal with it all alone. Even though laws in most countries, including India, now mandate a man to offer child support and maintenance to offspring born in live-in relationships, the child may still grow up without a father in their life if the man doesn’t want to be involved and the woman may have no choice but to go through the rigmarole of being a single parent.
5. The partner’s rights are not secured
You cannot inherit each other’s property unless everything is legally put down in a will. In case of a serious illness or death of a partner, their family can take over and ask the other to move aside if they please. He or she would have no legal claim to stay by their partner.
As is evident, live-in relationships have their own set of challenges and advantages. It is up to the couples to make it work to enjoy the benefit and minimize the issues. That is where it becomes important to plan and agree on some rules so that neither partner feels taken for granted.
Related Reading: Survival Guide: Dos And Don’ts Of Being In A Live-In Relationship
7 Rules For A Live-In Relationship
In order to avoid being treated like a doormat, couples who decide to live together should follow a few live-in relationship rules. This will ensure that either of you doesn’t burn your fingers while taking the risk of a living-in relationship. Moreover, these carefully set live-in relationship rules ensure that your relationship stays happy and amiable and you enjoy the most of it.
“When you decide to live together, you must be clear that it is not INSTEAD of marriage. Keep in mind that it may not result in marriage either. It is simply because you want to be with one another for the moment,” says Joie, speaking of the most crucial live-in relationship law of them all. In addition to this, she lays down the following house rules for couples living together:
1. Decide the fine print on finances
“One of the most important live-in relationship rules is being respectful of one another’s financial responsibilities and always paying your share in the running and upkeep of the house,” says Joie. A live-in relationship is more than just sharing a bedroom and thinking of novel ways to have fun together without even having to leave the house.
The two of you will now be running a house together. Before you move in, sit, and design a plan for financial management. Decide who will take care of which expenses in order to avoid any confusion or chaos once you live together. The rules for a live-in relationship should be put down the moment you move in together.
2. Divide the chores too
From doing the laundry to tidying up the house, both of you should divide the tasks to delegate equal responsibilities. Even hiring domestic help for cleaning and cooking needs to be a joint decision so that it makes things easier for both partners. If responsibilities and chores are not clearly divided, it can quickly give way to constant bickering and arguments.
Before you know it, you start feeling like a miserable couple who cannot help but snap at each other over things big and small. With this sorted, the two of you can live peacefully, avoiding fights. “To make the process more seamless and friction-free, the division of chores must be done keeping in mind one another’s choices and lifestyle,” advises Joie.
Related Reading: Marriage VS Live-In Relationship: Everything You Wanted To Know
3. Be clear on why you are taking this plunge
Like marriage, a living-in relationship is a big decision. Make it wisely and not in haste. If you have spent one or more years together, only then think of moving in together. Have clarity on why the two of you want to live in and whether this will lead to marriage at all. This will ensure that you don’t move in with false promises and expectations.
“Your partner may not want to be integrated into your family and be referred to or treated as your spouse. It is vital to respect that and be clear about the reasons why you’re choosing to live together and defining expectations clearly can help with that. That’s why having ground rules for a live-in relationship is important,” says Joie. This way you’d never regret a live-in relationship, no matter how it pans out.
4. In case of pregnancy
Now that the two of you will stay together and share the same bedroom, this would mean sex at any time of day or night. First and foremost, have a conversation about whether you want to have children. If not, make sure you adopt a sound plan for contraception to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
Also, discuss the eventuality of an accidental pregnancy beforehand and plan what your course of action would be in such a situation. This is one of the most crucial live-in relationship rules. “Accept the fact that accidental pregnancy may happen and if it does, no partner will force the other to keep the baby or force them into marriage,” recommends Joie.
5. Sorting out troubles together
The initial few months of living in would be nothing less than a honeymoon. But once the charm fades, there would be fights, arguments, and irritations. As a couple, you should know how to deal with them calmly. Do not make the mistake of taking a harsh decision and ending it all over a petty fight or disagreement. Learn to kiss and make up to keep the flame of love burning.
“Some of the most common relationship problems can be avoided and overcome if both partners learn to respect each other’s space and privacy. Both partners must accept one another’s friends, choices, goals, likes, dislikes and create enough space to grow and thrive, both as a couple and as individuals,” says Joie.
6. Give in to desires and fantasies
The sheer joy of living in is the idea of exploring sexual desires and fantasies. Women should make the most of this time by playing into their desires. Men too should be open to experimenting and spruce up their lovemaking skills. While you have a lot of room to experiment and explore sexual fantasies, it mustn’t be done at the cost of consent.
Good sex always helps in keeping you cheerful and happy at work too. However, that only works when both partners are on the same page about their sexual interactions and neither feel coerced or pressured to do things they don’t want to. Respecting your partner’s wishes and seeking their consent should be an unsaid live-in relationship law.
7. Be prepared that a live-in relationship might end
Having decided to cohabit, couples must also keep a timeline on the duration of their stay together. You cannot go on living in a relationship if you have marriage on your mind. Even if marriage is not part of your life plan, don’t assume that a live-in relationship will last forever.
Be prepared that a live-in relationship might end. If it does, you must accept it and work on healing and moving on instead of desperately clinging on to the hope that you can infuse life into a bond that has run its course. “Accept and respect the other’s decision to part ways when the need arises, without drama,” advises Joie, emphasizing that this is one of the most crucial live-in relationship rules.
“Living together is for you when you know you are friends who are lovers. You are happy in the moment and you want to cherish each other. You do not want to think about the future or long term at the moment, but yes, it may happen eventually – ‘may’ being the operative word. No matter what happens no one should be allowed to make a decision that affects both collectively, no physical violence, no mental torture, and no sacrifices either,” she adds.
Is Live-In Legal In India?
We have a comprehensive guide for you that has been put together by our legal team. It will answer all your questions ranging from, whether can a man and woman from separate marriages come together and live in, to do the couples find it hard to rent a flat together, to if it is possible for partners in live-in relationships to lodge formal complaints of domestic abuse? You can read the piece here.
But if you set down the rules for living together as a couple you will have a comfortable system in place. The broad relationship and house rules for couples living together can serve as a broad frame of reference, but ultimately, it is for you and your partner to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you find a rhythm for living together, the journey will become smooth sailing.