Is it best to have a dress rehearsal for playing out living together forever or are things literally moving too fast?
The relationship looks good, there’s every indication this is the one that’ll see you into the Happily Ever After, and the concept of ‘living in sin’ sounds about as relevant as a Ford Capri. Moving in together before the big ‘I do’ seems like a logical next step, the ultimate test drive.
More young Asian couples are setting up home before marriage than ever before, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are we less constrained by the strict expectations of the family or bothered by the judgement of the community, both partners in the relationship are likely to be earning a wage, and independent enough to live away from home. And seeing as you seem to spend far more time with one another than you do with flatmates or alone with the cat, it makes sense to pool together as one rather than pay rent and bills in separate flats.
Even more importantly, living together will give you the opportunity to see all the kinks in the relationship that don’t seem noticeable during dating, and how you both manage to iron them out will form the basis of the rest of your time together. Get it right, and you can expect to grow old and wrinkly through laughter lines together; get it wrong, and you’ll be crying in your mother’s arms and agreeing never to be under the same roof as a man that wasn’t your husband ever again!
If you’ve already lived with a man (you can count the boyfriend at university that became a permanent fixture at your digs, forever irritating your housemates by nabbing their couscous and toiletries), you’ll know the pitfalls. If you’re living with one right now and things are far from hunky dory, you’ll be wondering where it all went wrong and how to put it right. And if you’ve never co-inhabited the same resting ground with that strange creature we know as Man – boy, are you in for a shock to the system.
Here’s what you need to prepare for, where you’ll need to stand your ground, and how you’ll know the setting is right to lay the Home Sweet Home mat on your doorstep…
HOME TRUTH 1: Things moving too fast leaves you in a spin
Every girl loves a gesture of commitment. But where once the natural progression from courting was the proposal, many young Asian couples are happy to push back marriage till much later, especially women who feel they have a long way to go down their career path before they settle for the 2.4. Seeing as you’re not ready, popping the question to make you feel more secure in your union isn’t going to happen. So what’s he to do to show you he means business? You’ve seen the Hollywood movies. When boy asks girl to move in together, she goes all a-flutter, flapping ‘he really loves me’ to anyone who’ll listen. There’s no doubt about it. It is a romantic act and it does prove he’s serious about you, but has he thought it through, or did he do it because he loves doing things that make you gush? Will he be able to maintain that level of romance once he sees you with a Veet moustache stuffing your stained Always Ultra into an empty toilet roll? And how will you react when this knight in shining armour who promised you breakfast in bed and sensual nightly massages comes home drunk as a skunk then passes out on the sofa snoring like a pneumatic drill?
HOME TRUTH 2: He won’t bring you flowers anymore
It starts off the old-fashioned way. Boy spreads his peacock feathers to woo girl, pulling out all the stops to make her feel like a dove among pigeons. Then, once he knows you’re in it for keeps, things get modern. He’ll cut down on spoiling you, which will initially suit you just fine because you want to establish you’re nowhere ready to play the traditional housewife that needs looking after. The slow descent from him turning from Lothario Loverboy to Laid-back Lad, and you transforming from Cool Goddess to the Comfy Girlie will come as a necessity (because let’s face it, while romance around the clock sounds like a lovely idea, you don’t want your man composing sonnets in your honour when you’re watching EastEnders). But the moment boredom kicks in, which turns to tragedy once an argument’s thrown onto the stage, you’ll find it impossible to separate the way he used to act towards you before you moved in compared to how seemingly careless he is of your happiness, and conclude he doesn’t love you like he used to. While he’ll be lamenting the fun girl he fell in love with wondering when she became so demanding and needy.
HOME TRUTH 3: You will want to change him
Don’t kid yourself – there’s no such thing as an equal relationship. The idea that you’ll both have your wishes go hand in hand in harmony, with neither ever feeling hard done by or made to feel overbearing, is ridiculous. You’ll refer to it as ‘our house’ to all and sundry, but even when you lived with your parents it was still your house wasn’t it? And the difference between the house you live in and the one you’re a guest at is that in the one you call home, things are how you like it. Make-up aligned on dressing table with the precision of a Venetian architect: good. Yesterday’s half-eaten pizza with fag ash topping on Egyptian rug: bad, very bad. Now, unless your man is a controlling perpetrator, chances are, he won’t complain too much about your ways. He gets that you’re a stickler for rituals, and will be happy to snooze a few more minutes while you brush your teeth for two and a half minutes exactly while running the shower for five minutes before you jump in, blow dry, straighten, eye line and head off in time to savour your morning latte at the cafe. Other than the urgent call for nature, he’ll generally try not to get in your way while you do all this. Until that is, you start having a go about his little quirks, which let’s face facts here, you soon will. It starts off with ‘babe, can you please try not to leave your coffee cup on the bathtub?, but very quickly progresses onto ‘I’ve told you a million times my hairclips aren’t flipping cotton buds…’
HOME TRUTH 4: Compromise seems to be the hardest word
Happy together should mean doing everything together, but unless you’re identical twins, that’s simply unworkable. On paper, it seems perfectly reasonable that he should be allowed to play his computer games and have his boys’ night at the casino, while he can profess total cool about your TV dinners with the soaps and the salsa evening with the girls, but then today happens. Today, you want him to pick up some paneer from your mother’s on the way back from work so you can take over a dish to the neighbour’s garden party, which we promised Shefaly we’d go to, remember? Except today, he wants to go to the pub to catch up with an old buddy passing through town, and who the hell is Shefaly? Now, one person is going to miss out today. And you’ll be damned if it’s you, right? Uh-oh. He’s thinking exactly the same. Cue: emotional blackmail, threats, accusations of manipulation, sulking.