30 March 2007

Don't let shacking up shake you up

When couples move in together, they are usually head over heels and have a tendency to forget practical everyday things.


When couples move in together, they are usually head over heels and have a tendency to forget practical everyday things. And often, it is just these very everyday things that cause the end of the living-together arrangement. Making decisions beforehand could avoid lots of bitterness later.

Whose place is this?
If one of the partners lived here before, does this remain theirs, and the person who moves in merely sublets? Or do they sign a new joint lease, or do they move into a new place altogether?

If the house or flat is owned by one of the partners, what type of rent will be payable by the one moving in? These things have to be decided beforehand, as well as what will happen if the relationship comes to an end. Who will move? If a joint deposit was paid, will the one moving get their share of it?

What some couples do, is one pays for the bond and the other one foots the grocery and household bills. The problem with this, is should they split up, one person has been paying off on fixed assets, which have increased in value, whereas the other has nothing to show for all the money he or she spent. It is fine to do this when paying rent, but bond repayments are different.

Whose things are these?
Who do the washing machine, sitting room couch, the TV and the fridge belong to? It is always easier when people don’t club together to buy things, as later ownership disputes can get very tricky. It is better when one person pays for the stove and the other for the fridge, then at least there is no doubt as to what belongs to whom.

Make a point of remembering what you brought with you and what was already there when you arrived. If it all ends in tears and you are packing in a rush, it could be very easy to forget the green vase you inherited from your grandmother.

It is also a good idea not to take on joint pets. If you want to get a cat, get one, but make it clear that it is yours.

Who pays for what?
Things that need to be decided on beforehand include electricity, water, rates, garden services, the domestic’s wages, telephone bills and repair bills.

If you and your partner earn more or less the same, most things can be split in half, but make sure that you don’t end up paying for things like a new geyser, unless the house or flat is in your name as well.

If your income is different to that of your partner, you could agree to a 60/40 split or whatever suits you. These are things, which must be negotiated while things are going well. Money is the cause of many acrimonious splits.

Who does what around the house?
Housework and other chores need to be split evenly between partners beforehand.

Cooking, cleaning washing up, laundry, gardening and general tidying up should never become the responsibility of one person, as this is not only unfair, it also causes resentment on the long run.

Remember that what you do in the first week or two, often sets the tone for the rest of the time you stay together.

What social decisions need to be made?
Will you always socialise together, or will there be evenings you go your own separate ways? If you have a standing date on Wednesdays with your mother or colleagues or friends, make this clear beforehand. If you never go out on Fridays, negotiate around this, so that it is not an unpleasant surprise when the first weekend arrives and your partner wants to go party.

How much socializing do you need? If your partner wants to see people every night and you are happy with socialising once a week, you need to discuss this before you move in.

Will you be happy to stay at home, while he or she goes out with friends? How much will you be seeing of family? How do you feel about houseguests?

Personal things
You and your partner also need to discuss contraception and what would happen in the case of a sudden pregnancy. Possible retrenchment, insurance, medical aid, the interior decorating of the house, how you feel about drugs and alcohol and smoking in the house, are all important issues on which you and your partner have to come to agreement before you arrive on the doorstep with your suitcase.

If you are unable to discuss these things amicably, maybe you are not ready to move in together.

(Susan Erasmus Health24)

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