As you’ve probably noticed, cohabitation is on the rise. More couples are living together before marriage or as an alternative to becoming married. In fact, by the time they’re 30, 3 out of 4 American women have lived with a man, according to the National Survey on Family Growth.
Whatever arrangement you choose, you’re likely to enjoy more success when you communicate openly and respectfully. Try these suggestions for developing the courage and skill to define your relationship and plan for your future.
Talking Points for More Casual Relationships
- Proceed slowly. Rushing into revealing personal information or wanting to see each other exclusively could sabotage your budding relationship if you are still in the early stages of dating. Pace yourself so you can grow accustomed to each other gradually.
- Give advance notice. You may take your partner by surprise if they’ve been content to let nature take its course. Ask them if it’s a good time to talk about where your relationship is headed.
- Calculate your risks. You’ll be better prepared if you evaluate the full range of likely outcomes. Your partner may feel less committed than you or there may be stressful negotiations ahead. Remind yourself that being informed empowers you.
- Think before deciding. It’s easy to drift from sharing an apartment to walking down the aisle. Examine your reasons for staying together. Are you motivated by love or concerned about how you would cover the mortgage on your own?
- Consider external pressures. Weddings and holidays can skew your vision. It’s usually a good idea to postpone any relationship talk until a quieter moment.
- Make contingency plans. You’ll feel stronger and more resilient if you prove to yourself that you can thrive regardless of your relationship status. Lead a fulfilling life while you’re looking to meet your future partner.
- Check in regularly. Speak up promptly when something is bothering you to prevent conflicts from growing. Make heart-to-heart talks part of your daily routine.
- Be positive. It’s easy to take each other for granted as the years go by. Remind yourself about what you like about your spouse. Tell them that they’re a great dancer or pastry chef.
- Share parenting. Having children can change your relationship dramatically. Hash out a parenting philosophy you can both feel comfortable with. Decide on issues like discipline and homework.
- Divide chores. Divvying up the vacuuming and yard work plays a big role in maintaining marital harmony. Pick the chores you excel at or take turns. Encourage your partner to let you know if they feel that you’re not doing your fair share.
- Take charge of your finances. Even if one spouse is more experienced with managing money, you both need to understand your income and expenses. Share information and ask questions about anything that’s unclear.
- Look ahead. One delightful thing about a long-term relationship is having someone to share your hopes and dreams. Brainstorm about making your golden years extra special.
- Live up to your word. Actions still speak louder than words, especially when you’re talking with someone you see up close 7 days a week. Treating each other with love and kindness will strengthen your marriage more than any eloquent speech.
Maybe you’re eager to start planning your wedding day or maybe you just want to clarify how your girlfriend feels about you. Talking about your relationship with your partner will help you to figure out where you stand with each other.