Aug 4, 2010
12:45 PM

Cohabitation: Agreement

Cohabitation: Agreement

I was having dinner with a mutual friend last night and told her my girl and I finally finished our Living Together/Cohabitation Agreement. The friend said, “That will certainly kill the sex.” “Au contraire,” I told Ms. Buzzkill, "it will only strengthen our relationship because we are not only taking care of ourselves, but each other as well.” I told my friend I find open and honest communication sexy. It might not be easy to talk about ending our relationship just as we are moving into a new apartment together, but it is necessary and very practical. And I am a Virgo after all.

Our agreement, a legal document, is intended to protect both of us in the event our relationship ends. It protects us property-wise, financially as well as emotionally, too. My girlfriend has always had extensive roommate agreements for stuff like no smoking or drugs, logistics about guests, boyfriends and girlfriends and rules about common spaces and I was advised by legal counsel in the past to have a living together agreement with another girlfriend, but neither of us has ever actually written or signed a legally binding Living Together Agreement.

And, it is sexy, if scary, to put out intentions on paper. It’s not at all about her couch, our respective writing desks, or my tree (although I love my tree!), it’s about our sanity and peace of mind. We know exactly how it will go down if one or both of us no longer want to be in the relationship, for whatever reason. We aren’t going into our new home full of anxiety about not knowing where we will live or how we will split up possessions (which is far less important to us than our psychological health and the fact that we won’t we be out on the street) in the case we no longer want to be in an intimate couple.

In fact, as much as I am not interested in marriage, I am interested in planning ahead. From what I’ve experienced, read and seen or heard, when considering the end of a romance, both parties usually have a very hard time agreeing on even the simplest decisions. The very nature of a breakup clouds all rational judgment and gives way to emotion. Drafting a living together agreement to address all possible foreseeable circumstances that can occur when we’ve jointly lease an apartment, will reside in it together and make joint purchases, will serve as our guide about how to proceed. From my research on the subject, is seems a signature on such an agreement by both parties is likely to make each more willing to abide by its terms. And that’s a positive thing, right, not a negative sex or romance killer.

The points my gal I are hitting in our agreement cohabitation agreement, include:
•    Distributing property in case of breakup or death.
•    Financial obligations during the relationship or after its dissolution.
 •    Dividing our residence upon breakup of the relationship or if one of us dies. Setting up our “property” (meaning our anew apartment) with rights of survivorship to allow the other to stay in our shared home. (Both of our names are already on the lease.)
•    Creating a health care proxy allowing each other to make decisions regarding our health care in medical emergencies.
•    Assigning the right to serve as a guardian or conservator in the event of incapacitation.
•    Establishing the right to make medical decisions on each other’s behalf.

If this ain’t an aphrodisiac, I don’t know what is.

Seriously though, a living together agreement makes a helluva lot of sense in a world of sharks, naysayers, buzzkills and other counter influences. And, I didn’t graduate from law school—or have 15 years of therapy—for nuthin’!

 

Blogger Bio: Stephanie Schroeder is a dreamer, wanderer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She likes to exchange apartments with artists and other interesting folks from around the globe and travel in search of new friends and singular experiences. She makes purple a way of life and also fancies green, purple’s complementary color on the color wheel. (stephanieschroeder.com)

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