7 Important Things You Learn When You Move In Together

What's a word that begins with "C" and can be scarier than commitment? Cohabitation. When couples decide to eliminate their comfort zone barriers and take that jump to live together, all their little habits, routines, and quirks are right there out on the table — 24/7. They have the chance to really learn who you are. That all sounds scary, so what are the reasons you should make the leap? Turns out there's a lot you can learn when you make the big move.

Don\'t let the studies scare you

I have a personal connection with this topic. I\'m 23 years old and started living with my boyfriend just eight months ago. The statistics and studies I read about couples who live together before marriage actually made me terrified for my own relationship. That is until I heard some real opinions. After speaking with several people who live with their significant other, and my 24-hour twitter poll, my faith in my choice to move-in before marriage was restored. Instead of horrifying divorce rates and cohabiters categorized by type, I found real experiences and real stories.

\"I believe that moving in is a start,\" says Shannon Kuzmicz, 23, who has been living with her boyfriend for almost four years. \"It\'s the beginning of a life together, it\'s the process and the learning. And marriage is the ultimate commitment. It\'s knowing I can do this with this person, we\'re very compatible and I want to spend my life, my responsibilities and everything else with that person.\"

You learn a lot while living with your significant other, so let\'s start with a big one...

How to share expenses

How do you decide who\'s going to buy groceries? Who is going to pay the rent or the mortgage? How can you tell you\'re with someone who isn\'t going to spend all of your money on senseless items or not contribute to the bills? You don\'t really know until you\'re actually put into those situations. Money and investments can be a difficult thing to maintain, but having someone else there to share the expenses of life with can be quite helpful.

\"It\'s so expensive right now to live so if you can share the cost and make life a little easier, why not?\" urged Nicole Wythe, who lived with her now-husband for three years prior to their engagement. She explained that after a few tries with a few different relationships, she figured out what works.

Relationship specialist Paula Susan told me, \"Most of us learn how to handle finances from our parents\' style. This can be a difficult stumbling block for lots of couples. Good discussions and resolution should be a priority or there will be problems.\"

How to cope with annoying habits

Annoying habits can be tough to get over at first — at least they were for me. I have them, and my boyfriend certainly has them too. I won\'t name any specifically, but it took me time and a little effort to understand that he may not know these habits are annoying. Plus, there\'s a chance they might be habits for a reason. What I wanted him to do about them may not have been what he wanted to do, but it was a discussion we needed to have.

Susan explained, \"People are too quick to push their wants on each other. Once you slow down and really listen to each other — mirroring what you are hearing, it\'s not going in one ear and out the other.\"

How to compromise or make sacrifices

Silly little things you think wouldn\'t really affect a relationship can actually be a big deal once you cohabitate. Ever tried to decorate a room (or a whole house!) with someone who had a totally different style? It\'s not easy.

Susan pointed out that, \"...you need to realize that there is no one way of doing things. You each have ideas that should be considered.\"

Caitlin Cool, 24, recently bought a place with her boyfriend of two years and says that, \"Picking out furniture and appliances have become way more difficult than I could\'ve imagined.\" Work together and try to come to a compromise when situations like this occur, or else a fun day out will just turn into a day of fighting.

How to have strong communication skills

It can be hard to communicate certain things to your significant other, but Susan says it\'s a must for relationships that want to survive. \"When you have both expressed how you are looking at things and what it means to you, you can negotiate or be willing to compromise. There will be no reason to fight. Real communication is the number one issue with couples,\" says Susan. Once you\'re living together, that constant togetherness makes communication even more imperative, so take this one to heart.

How to respect scheduling

It\'s not uncommon for a couple to find themselves working or sleeping on totally different schedules. Ever heard that phrase, \"Ships passing in the night?\" That\'s no fun, but it really does happen — and it can make things difficult. It\'s hard to grow (or even survive) as a couple when you\'re rarely together. Not to mention the battles that may ensue when you try to split up chores or create schedules.

When TODAY asked relationship experts for tips on surviving different working schedules (or even different internal clocks), they got a wealth of responses. The basics, according to their experts are to be respectful, compromise, and make time for each other — no matter what. You can do that, right? If not, it\'s time to learn.

How to feel comfortable

Your home is your safety net. Does your partner add to it or take away from it? It\'s not just about food, shelter, finances, etc. It\'s about your person as a whole. Do you want to come home to them and everything that comes with them?

\"Being in their comfort zone can bring out someone completely different,\" says Sonia Lacy. Lacy and her husband have been married for almost 20 years, but lived together four years prior. \"When you\'re dating you can put on a front for someone or try to impress them by being something you\'re not,\" explains Lacy. It was the simple things that really came out when she began living with her husband like \"Leaving the lid off the toothpaste or huge stuff like drinking straight out of the milk carton.\"

\"Even though there are real qualities we love and admire in the people we choose to become romantically involved with, we must consider that each of us is also making sure that the negative baggage we each carry fits nicely into one another\'s undeveloped emotional compartments,\" says Clinical Psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D in an article written for Psychology Today.

How to maintain boundaries

I like things organized, and sometimes I go a little overboard organizing things that aren\'t mine to organize... That\'s when my boyfriend told me that I wasn\'t allowed to organize his dresser drawers anymore — It\'s also when I got my first big lesson in boundaries.

Learning about boundaries comes with time and maybe even crossing a line or two. It\'s exploring what works and what\'s just too much, like sharing deodorant or going to the bathroom with the door open. Some couples are more open than others. Your phone rings... Would you be okay if your significant other answered it? It\'s important to figure these things out early on.

Clinical Psychologist Ryan Howes, Ph.D, says setting boundaries is a must in any relationship. \"Boundaries in romantic relationships are especially critical, because as opposed to other relationships, partners inhabit each other\'s most intimate spaces, including physical, emotional and sexual,\" he told PsychCentral. Make this happen by being clear and specific about your own boundaries, and by respecting the ones set by your partner. And when in doubt about whether something crosses a line — just ask.

Sometimes, it just works

The older studies that told us you\'re more likely to get a divorce if you live with each other before being married didn\'t show the whole picture. Two sociologists from Texas explained that many underlying factors could have led to those results, somewhat skewing the data. According to a study from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, two-thirds of new marriages happen after the couple has lived together for over two and a half years, That same study suggests premarital cohabitation isn\'t quite as risky as we\'ve been led to believe.

Kirby Magee, 31, and her boyfriend were \"easing into\" living together, but once they took the jump she learned, \"it can be a powerful way to strengthen and deepen your relationship. I feel we were able to address problems and resolve them and I think that is a good indicator that we\'d be able to smooth over any bumps down the road.\"