Lots of couples get to the point of having "the talk." You're spending more nights together than apart and you begin to wonder if it wouldn't just be easier and cheaper if you just lived together.
But - what if both of you are middle-aged?
In 2007, I was 42 and he was 55. We had been together for two years and were both in agreement that marriage just wasn't necessary. However, blending two independent people is always difficult and the older we get, the more set in our ways we become. Fortunately, none of our disagreements since that time were ever anything worth saying "it's over." Our mutual respect, the foundation of our relationship, has allowed us to overcome some issues that younger couples may not face.
Younger couples often face the prospect of blending families or taking on the role of step-parent without the benefit of a marriage license. Being the parent of grown children brings its own set of challenges.
Living in a small house, inviting the kids home for a visit presents challenges. Harry and I lose our privacy but because the visits happen so rarely, it's a minor inconvenience. I appreciate that my son will ask his advice and that Harry will help him with auto issues just as he would a life-long friend.
Friends and family minutes
A strange alignment of stars this past summer found us traveling to not one, but two of my family reunions as well as visiting friends of mine out of state. Harry was a good sport but I know it took a toll on him. I'm very fortunate that he and my parents are friends and don't just tolerate each other.
It's great when your partner can be friendly with those you consider important in your life. But, you have to create a balance. Expecting him to be thrilled about spending several days with people he barely knows is pushing the limit.
Whose stuff is this?
We are both recovering pack-rats -- never throwing anything away because we might need it someday. I balk at giving up any of my cast iron skillets while Harry loves buying gadgets for the kitchen.
However, no household of two needs 18 bath towels and three DVD players. Sell your extra items if possible, putting away the money for a trip out of town or a large-ticket item you both would like to have.
Division of labor
I honestly feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be living with a man who not only pitches in to cook in the kitchen but also washes dishes. I gladly do the laundry and now that he is working 12-hour shifts, it would be selfish of me to ask him to help in the kitchen. Because we only have one vehicle, Harry regularly does errand-running or grocery shopping on his way home from work.
When we do major housework, he always cleans the shower and mops the floors while I do the other things. We never discussed this, but we both kind of picked the chores we prefer and the balance works well.
Money, money, money
I was a homemaker when I was married, but was always in charge of paying the bills and buying the groceries. In this relationship, we've never opened a joint account but the monetary division is very fair.
We each carry our own bills, but the household finances are divided quite evenly. He makes more money than I and transfers money to my account to cover the bills. With friends saying that money contributes to the majority of their arguments, I'm amazed that this division is something we never had to discuss but that it happened naturally. As Harry said the other day, "It all goes to the same place."
Beating the baggage from prior relationships or a long life of habits can be a challenge for any couple. Communication and mutual respect will help the middle-aged couple who decide to move in together seal their relationship and drive away the common battles.
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