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Cohabitation is a major relationship milestone that’s likely to be a very exciting and potentially nerve-racking transition, especially if you’re used to living solo. Maybe moving in together makes sense logistically or financially, serves as a trial run for marriage, or is simply the next step in your strong commitment and desire to get married.
Regardless of your reasons and how well you know your partner, living together exposes you to a new side of your partner and naturally changes your relationship. Knowing how to better handle the adjustment of moving in together will make the process more enjoyable and less stressful.
Here are eight strategies to make moving in together a smoother transition and a successful step in your relationship:
It’s easy to avoid topics, such as money, that aren’t considered sexy or romantic, but getting on the same page is a must. Finances are one of the most common issues both unmarried and married couples fight about, so using proactive communication and setting realistic expectations is essential.
Discuss how expenses, such as groceries, rent, or mortgage, household supplies, and insurance, will be shared or split. Also consider discussing the following questions: What are your general attitudes toward money? Will you share a credit or debit card? How much can you each afford to pay on a monthly basis? Will finances be merged in any way or kept completely separate? How do you feel about a monthly budget for expenses and saving? How will you stay on track with financial goals (e.g., paying off debt)?
Evaluate what feels comfortable and fair and how you will protect yourself if things don’t work out.
Feeling irritable, overwhelmed, or anxious during adjustments and life changes is common. It’s essential to remember that feeling anxious (or missing your own space) isn’t necessarily a sign that moving in together is the wrong choice.
Be gentle with yourself and your partner, giving each other time to adjust. Be mindful that anxiety can create irritation, impatience, and anger, so take steps to stop yourself from acting out, sabotaging the relationship, or taking your discomfort out on your partner.
And be willing to compromise. It may sound small, but if you’re used to using a dishwasher to wash dishes and your partner prefers hand-washing everything, you may be temporarily thrown off upon moving in together. Or if you have different preferences around sleep (what time to go to bed, sleeping with the TV on or off, temperature control in the bedroom, etc.), communication and compromise will be essential.
Understand that doing things differently doesn’t mean one of you is wrong. Having different preferences is natural in relationships, so avoid judgment and find a way to compromise and give and take. Healthy relationships are not about winning.
You want to know how you’re going to handle chores, household tasks, cleaning, and other responsibilities. Again, this topic may feel like the exact opposite of romance, but that does not negate the importance of approaching these conversations head-on.
Setting expectations through honest and open communication will allow you to make a collaborative plan, better understand each other’s views and meet each other’s needs.
You may not have the same exact taste or style or like everything your partner wants to bring with him to your new place. However, you need to make room for both of your personalities and preferences to shine. Be flexible with each other while remembering that your home belongs to you both.
When it comes to home décor, enlist your partner to help you make design choices. Avoid being bossy or controlling. If your partner doesn’t want to help with decorating, continue to be sensitive to his style when making selections.
If you’re used to living solo or are more introverted, moving in together may feel like a rude awakening (with some excitement sprinkled in). It may take time to find a healthy middle ground for how you share your space, so strive to balance making a home together with being respectful of individual space and privacy.
Also be aware that living together may make it more challenging to take a timeout during an argument, so consider making a plan for how to give/take space during a conflict. Respect and trust are huge here.
Living together isn’t supposed to be romantic 24/7, so keep your spark alive by scheduling dates and other quality time together. Simply becoming roommates without investing in the romantic, passionate, affectionate, and sexual aspects of your relationship may lead to ruts, boredom, and frustration. Put in the effort to have regular dates in and out of your home, and, as always, be open to trying new activities and experiences together.
Also, continue to show your partner love and appreciation, and understand that living together doesn’t mean you no longer have to nurture your relationship.
Sometimes living together can ignite unexpected, unhealthy habits. While it’s healthy to feel comfortable being your most authentic self, be aware of bad habits that may interfere with your relationship. For example, not cleaning up after yourself, being clingy and needy, snooping, or not respecting privacy are all relationship no-nos that will create distance over time.
Taking your partner for granted, being glued to your phone, and controlling your partner are all habits worth breaking. For more on how to break these sorts of unhealthy habits, click here.
Be mindful of not letting the excitement of moving in together stop you from addressing serious and necessary topics that may get in the way later. Expect that moving in together will naturally change your relationship as you get to know each other (flaws and all) from a new angle. Focus on growing your love, deepening your connection, and ensuring a smoother adjustment period as you approach this important relationship milestone with smart strategies.