Interesting topic, and I can totally relate.
I will address mostly Points # 3 and # 4 from your post.
Mr TTR & I are older (I am over 50, he’s over 60). So both of us have been married before.
When I met Mr TTR I was just coming off my horrible divorce… and was living on my own… lol, my stuff my way.
Our moving in together was sort of a gradual process.
When we were dating, like you are now, I made a point of not moving much in. I didn’t want him to get too used to the idea that I was 100% available… so I tended to take an overnight bag back and forth between his and mine for quite a few months.
He on the otherhand was highly smitten from me right from the beginning, and went out of his way to make me feel welcome / comfortable at his home. Including as yours does giving me free rein of his home… even when he wasn’t there (definitely a strange feeling for me). But the nicest thing he did was going out and buying me some items that he thought I might appreciate… lol, funny now when I think about them.
A nice big coffee mug – a box of my favourite tea – a Bathrobe (ok that one he sort of passed off as a Christmas Present that he said I should leave at his house) – and he noticed my preferences in toiletries and picked up a few bottles for me to have in the bathroom (shampoo, conditioner, deoderant, toothpaste) – and a new toothbrush
After a few months of heavy dating, more often than not Thursday night thru to Sunday Night, and then maybe one other night (usually Tuesday)
It was becoming quite apparent that we were destined to want to spend 24/7 together. So we broached the subject of living together. After my bad divorce, I was very gun-shy but I liked him a lot. He gave me a key, and told me I could come and go as I pleased.
Gradually I spent more and more time at his. But I kept my own apt (infact I kept my own place for years, much like Carrie Bradshaw did in SITC) it was a touchstone for me, something to keep myself grounded I suppose.
Meanwhile Mr TTR was working on making me feel more and more welcome at his. He planned a whole redecoration project so I wouldn’t feel that the house was so much his (or his Ex Wifes). He painted, moved around furniture, bought some new pieces, and asked for my input. One of the nicest things we did was “upgrading” the Master Bedroom space, including buying a new mattress, and some very lux linens & bedding. Mr TTR says to this day that he LOVES OUR BED !!
The bringing together of two adults who had both lived in longterm marriages, and on their own meant there was plenty of compromise needed. But we worked thru it all.
One of the things we did talk about when we were dating was our feelings about Marriage. Both of us had been hurt pretty badly so we were gun-shy… but the idea wasn’t totally off the table.
The first 5 years I lived with Mr TTR, I was quite comfortable to keep things status quo. AND I took on the role of the Good Longterm Girlfriend (never the wife / life partner one). Having been hurt so badly in the past, I always kept my wits about me and in the back of my mind said “hey this could end at any time”
(I intentionally didn’t live with him and become the surrogate wife… and I don’t advise others to do that either. Living together is good… I highly recommend it as a way to truly know someone before marrying them. BUT I’ve seen too many women become a doormat to their guys. Or guys who don’t stay motivated in the relationship enough to turn it into something more afterwards. Too many girls pining for Proposals that never seem to come. And men who get waaay too comfortable, lazy and complacient)
As we approached our 6th Anniversary, I came to realize that I wanted more… that I was in very very deep, and very very much in love with this man. Dating and being a Girlfriend was all good, but I wanted to make it more permanent, I wanted to get married again… I wanted to be the wife legally, that many assumed I was anyhow (with our ages in particular, whenever we met new people they always assumed we had been married for decades)
So I laid out my LIFE PLAN how I saw things coming together over the next 1, 3, 5, 10+ years. (Life Plans are discussed extensively in other posts here on WBee)
And I told him that I would like to be married by the end of 2012. He said he understood, and agreed. And then there was no more discussion / nagging on my part in regards to the timeline / proposal (ok I lie, I believe I teased him once).
Typical guy, he took his time, and planned out the Proposal as he see fit. It came several months later (knowing it was coming, but not when, sucked I admit… totally can relate to the girls here on the WBee WAITING Board)
And with it came his “plan” for the future in much detail… he had already worked out the WHEN, WHERE and HOW for our Wedding Ceremony & Honeymoon. And so as per my own Life Plan we were married before the end of 201, over the Christmas Holidays.
If being married is important to you… and you want kids in the future, then I suggest that you lay out your LIFE PLAN now. Tell him what it is you want, and how you plan to get there.
He needs to know that you are either the girl who wants a Ring BEFORE you move in… or are one that has a timeline when that needs to take place. Do not accept the “lets wait & see” answer that many men give… unless you are truly comfortable with the idea of being the longterm Girlfriend for a really really long time (maybe even forever).
Have seen too many Bees faced with the heart-breaking decision of needing to continue on with that road, or finally after 3, 5, 7, 10+ years have to walk away disappointed.
And as I alluded to earlier. Make things very 50/50 when you are living together. Don’t be taken for granted. Don’t do it all. It is his house, and therefore his turf a lot more than it is yours. So he needs to naturally DO MORE (because if you split up, it will be you moving out empty handed)
Take care of you as well. Write up a Cohabitation Agreement, and also get yourselves Wills / Living Wills. That should take care of all the legal aspects.
Marriage is a whole different ball of wax.
When Mr TTR & I got married we made changes… changes that he was aware of BEFORE we got married and agreed to. Our House is now officially “our house”. We’ve updated our Wills. And we’ve combined OUR finances / monies. Things aren’t ticked off 50/50 anylonger, all the money belongs to both of us.
I do a lot more around the house because I now feel more invested in it (recently I was the one to pay for a Patio upgrade). And I do a lot more chores etc as well… in that I am no longer just the Girlfriend. I would say I’ve gone from giving a certain percentage 50/50 to not keeping score.
Marriage isn’t about keeping score. You give because you love the other person… and want to make their lives better.
Mr TTR is amazed that there are actually differences between me the “Good GF” and me the “Great Wife”. But in my mind that is how it is supposed to be. A wife is different from a Girlfriend… otherwise WHY would any of us want to get married to begin with ? The two things are not the same.
Anyhow, I hope this helps, I can promise you it is a BIG change, but if you plan and work thru it together it can be very successful.