Family life is very different today than it was 50 years ago. 50 years ago, nuclear families were the norm. Today that is no longer the case – the family landscape has changed significantly over the past few decades. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in 2017, from blended families to civil families, families today are very different from the ones considered ‘normal’ five decades ago.
In the UK, there are 18.9 million families; 12.7 million of these are married or in a civil partnership, while there are 3.3 million cohabiting families, and that number is growing all the time. Between 1996 and 2016, cohabiting families were the fastest-growing family type in the UK, doubling from 1.5 million to 3.3 million in just ten years. We are one of these families.
Today, more and more couples are choosing to live together without getting married, opting to cohabit instead. I love my partner dearly, and would love to share a name with him and our child, however, the notion of a big elaborate wedding has never appealed to me. I’d rather spend the money on the honeymoon – but that would upset more traditional members of family and cause potential arguments, so we’ve just never bothered. The thought of going to a registry office doesn’t appeal either, so it is just something that’s ever been on our radar. If our child has a problem in the future, I’m sure it is something we’d address then.
So, having around four years experience of cohabiting, I can share tips on how can you make cohabiting work well for yourself, your partner, and your children
Ensure there is plenty of space for everyone
Cohabiting, whether it’s you, your child, and their biological father, or you, your children, and your new partner requires plenty of space for everyone. When you are all squeezed into one small space, arguments are more likely to occur. If you want cohabiting to work in the long-term, it pays to choose somewhere that offers plenty of space. Everyone needs their own space, which is why the larger the property, the better. Cohabiting, whether you have kids in tow or not, can take some getting used to, and it’s important to realise that.
Put an agreement in place
It’s all well and good being head over heels in love, but what happens should things go sour? Would you enter into a marriage without protecting yourself with a prenuptial agreement? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t cohabit without a cohabitation agreement either. Just in case it all goes south, it pays to use a family law solicitors to get an agreement put in place. This should state who gets the property, what happens to joint possessions and any savings that have been accumulated. Be smart and protect yourself and your children, after all, you never know what the future holds.
Respect is vital
The chances are, when you first met your partner, you tried to show them your best side. You were kind, caring and helpful – just because your relationship has moved forward, that doesn’t have to change. Respect is vital in any relationship. Don’t change how you act with your partner just because you have moved in together. Don’t take them for granted, treat them with care and respect. Pick up after yourself and expect the same from them.
Be constructive communicators
Arguments will happen, that’s just the way life is. However, you can minimise the impact that arguments have by being constructive communicators. Be fair when it comes to arguments, don’t throw things at your partner or bring up old arguments that have long been settled. Make your point and then listen to theirs, and then try to come to a mutual answer to the problem. Don’t leave fights unfinished. Talk things through until you come to a suitable resolution.