3 Ways To Keep Your Love Alive When You Live Together

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How Happy Couples Make Cohabitation Before Marriage Work In Healthy Relationships

Cohabitation — the act of living together before marriage — is a natural step in many committed relationships, but that doesn't mean it will unfold perfectly!

For many couples, moving in together can help them spend more time as partners, get to know one another on a deeper level, and even alleviate the pressure of some of their bills every month. But according to some statistics, cohabitation before marriage can actually be more stressful than actually being married!

RELATED: 5 Ways To Make Moving In Together Easier

When one couple decided to move in together, they didn't realize all the conflict that would get brought to the surface by the stress of moving.

They thought that seeing each other more often would make them feel secure in their relationship connection. But before they knew it, they were fighting about all kinds of things.

They were overwhelmed with the stress of moving and took it out on each other by criticizing, yelling, and then wishing they had more personal space. They had different ideas about how they wanted to decorate and wound up arguing about it.

Even though they saw each other more, they were sharing less affection and quality time and they were starting to feel like roommates instead of lovers. Their little annoying habits even started to get on each other’s nerves.

There are ways to make or break your cohabitation experience!

Here are 3 things couples in healthy relationships should do after moving in together that help keep their love alive.

1. Be vulnerable instead of critical

Research shows that what makes healthy relationships work is not whether you fight, but how you fight. In one six-year research study, researchers John Gottman and Sybil Carrère were able to predict divorce in newlywed couples from a three-minute conversation based on how they engaged in conflict!

It’s important that when conflict comes up, you have skills to connect on a deeper emotional level than what the fight seems to be about on the surface. For example, its rarely really about whether you leave the toothpaste cap on; it’s about whether you’re deeply connected to each other’s needs to feel important, listened-to, and validated for each point of view.

How are you bringing up issues? Do you share your vulnerable feelings and needs, or do you get critical and demanding?

RELATED: 3 Ways To Keep Your Sex Life Sizzling After You Move In Together

Are you fighting using harsh words and name calling? It's important to see that underneath your hurtful criticism is likely a desire for the other to feel how much you were hurt. But you might not know how to provide a compassionate space to say, “That hurt my feelings,” so you end up just criticizing and blaming each other.

When you can feel compassion for the pain you are both feeling, there will be less of a desire to hurt each other more, and you'll be able to feel the love again.

2. Stay connected to the pulse of what’s going on

Everyone is busy all of the time, and maintaining a deep connection doesn't happen without being creative about quality time. This is not just hugging each other every day, and asking how their day went.

It takes asking, “How am I going to keep this relationship alive? How can we maintain that same level of interest, excitement, and passion that we had when we were dating?” It’s easy for the communication to be about bills and plans, and not about what you’re both passionate about and feeling/needing.

3. Make sure you put fun in the schedule

Scheduling date nights, or play time, may feel like killing spontaneity, but because you’re so busy, if you don’t carve out time to have quality fun together as a couple, you can get stuck in a rut of watching TV and squeezing in quickies. It takes creativity and forethought to schedule new ways to explore together, but the couples that play together stays together!

Treat your boyfriend or girlfriend to a special night once in a while — it will benefit you both!

RELATED: 9 Things EVERY Couple Should Know Before Shacking Up Together

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Valerie Greene is a unique relationship mentor who has been helping couples stop fighting and fall in love again since 2005. You can get her free video training and ebooks for couples and women at her website.

This article was originally published at Coach Valerie Greene. Reprinted with permission from the author.