8 Tips for Moving in With Your Significant Other
So, you’ve decided to move in with your significant other – congrats!
Whether you’ve been together for a short or long period of time, or just gotten married, moving in together is a big step. It’s obviously an exciting time, but it’s also very natural to have some nerves about your change in living situation.
Like we said, it’s a big step. One that will bring changes to your daily routine and home-life dynamic. In order to make the transition to living with your partner successful, and to ultimately create domestic bliss, check out the tips and advice below to make sure you’re both ready for it.
1. Communicate Clearly and Often
It goes without saying that good communication is extremely important to the success of any relationship. But, this is especially true for romantic relationships, and exponentially important when you’re sharing a living space with your partner.
When you live with your significant other you’re not only building a long term relationship that meets the needs of both parties, but you’ll also have to balance the management of your household expenses, share belongings, and everything else that comes with sharing a home.
You may have different preferences and expectations when it comes to cleanliness, organization and decorative style. You may have very different schedules and routines. Heck, you may even have different stances on the appropriate temperature inside your home! Needless to say, there’s a lot to talk about before moving in with your significant other.
The key is to communicate about these things early on. Before moving in together, learn as much as you can about your partner so that you’ll know where you’ll have to make compromises, and so that there aren’t any major surprises that could cause you to regret your decision.
Ask questions of your partner to see where they stand on certain topics to start conversations, rather than giving them your list of “deal-breaker” habits. Approaching a discussion this way will help avoid assumptions you might have about your partner’s stance on something, because you could be wrong. You should also pay attention to your partner’s body language.
“People get really intent on telling their side of a story first. But I’m a big fan of starting by asking questions.” says Jacqueline Peters, a relationship and executive coach who teaches communication skills at InnerActive Leadership Associates in Calgary.
Peters says that if something suddenly feels off about your partner’s facial expressions or tone of voice, ask about it.
“You could say, ‘Hey, I noticed a little shift in the atmosphere of our conversation. What do you think about what I’ve been saying? Is something not landing right with you?’” She says that it’s easy for there to be misunderstanding and even unintentional hurt feelings during personal conversations, so it’s a good idea to watch for these types of cues.
2. Talk About Your Individual Goals
We’ve already covered the importance of achieving clear and effective communication, which definitely ties into this tip as well, however, this section speaks more to the types of topics that are important to cover before moving in with your significant other.
The key here is to never assume you know how someone feels about important topics like marriage, work goals, children and anything else that might require a major financial or time investment, or that could take you to a new city or province:
Here are a few questions to ask your partner before moving in together:
Do you see yourself getting married?
Just because your partner seems excited about living with you doesn’t always mean they see themselves getting married. If marriage is something that’s important to you, and you haven’t talked about it yet, be sure to discuss this subject extensively before making the leap of moving in together.
Do you want to have kids?
This is another big topic that could be a deal-breaker down the road. Do you want kids? Do you know if your partner wants kids? If you’re not sure, now is the time to talk about it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years when it comes to work or where you live?
Depending on the type of work you both do, this could be something that could result in major changes down the road, like having to move to a new city or province. If you or your partner have aspirations of moving up the ladder at work, find out if that could result in having to move. If one of you needs to move for work, will the other be ok with following, and will they be able to find work in another city?
The same could be said for other life goals like traveling, or maybe one of you has always wanted to live somewhere else but haven’t taken the leap. Be sure to discuss these subjects before you move in together because if you don’t have the same vision for your future, the result could have a major effect on your relationship and living situation down the road.
3. Don’t Sacrifice Personal Boundaries
When couples move in together, they’re essentially merging their two separate lives into one – you and your partner will be transitioning from “you and me” to “us”.
However, it’s still very important to maintain autonomy and personal boundaries. In fact, boundaries are vital to the health of a relationship.
“When it comes to your life as a couple, consider that there are actually three entities involved: yourself, your partner, and the relationship itself — and boundaries need to be defined for each,” says Dr. Jacqui Gabb, professor of sociology and intimacy at The Open University and chief relationships officer with the couples app Paired. “Each of those three parties needs to be sustained, nourished, and feel respected,” Gabb says.
Gabb goes on to list examples of healthy boundaries in every relationship:
- ask permission
- take one another’s feelings into account
- show gratitude
- be honest
- give space for autonomy and avoid codependence
- show respect for differences in opinion, perspective, and feelings
- sit with the other person’s communication of emotion
- take responsibility for your actions
And while you can try your best to maintain a healthy balance in your relationship, conflict and disagreements are inevitable. We’re human after all! The key to overcoming conflict in a positive way is all about how you approach those conversations.
Gabb explains that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. She recommends approaching tough conversations with “I feel” statements.
“I think all communication should start with ‘I feel,’” Gabb states. If you lead with superlative or accusatory statements (like “you always” or “you never”), then “you’re going to be hit with a brick wall of ‘That’s not what I think.’”
Examples of ‘I’ statements done the right way:
I felt really ___ when this happened.
I feel ___ when you.
I feel like ___.
‘I’ statements done incorrectly:
I know that you ___.
You made me ___.
You always ___ to me or at me.
It may take time and practice to work these techniques into your tough conversations, but it will be worth the effort in the long run.
4. Split the Decorating Decisions
Depending on your stage of life, one or both of you may have a lot of belongings that will be coming together into one place. If you’re in your 20’s you may not have accumulated a lot of household items yet, but if you’re in your 30’s or older and have been living alone in the same place for an extended period of time, you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you’ll have collected over the years.
You’ll likely have a good sense of your partner’s style and decorative tastes by the time you decide to move in together, but it’s still a good idea to make a plan about which items will stay, and which might have to go.
If there are certain pieces of art, or other items like coffee and end tables, area rugs, lamps, even dishes, that you know you want to keep, discuss this with your partner in advance. If you can make some decisions on how to pare down on your duplicate items, this will help cut down on the amount of stuff you end up having to move.
If you find that you just aren’t ready to get rid of some of your items (big or small), but you don’t have room for everything at your current shared home, you may want to put that stuff into storage for a while, just in case you need it down the road.
5. Divide Housework Early
If you’ve been dating your partner for a while, it’s likely you have an idea of their cleaning and organizational habits. However, this could change once you’re both living under the same roof full-time.
Don’t assume things will go as they have in the past after you’ve moved in together. Talk about it beforehand. Make a list of how you will share daily chores: who will do most of the grocery shopping, cooking, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, etc.
Jumping into cohabitation without a household management plan that is fair and acceptable for both parties could be a recipe for disaster in the future.
6. Talk About Your Finances
For many couples, money and finances can be a very sensitive topic. But, it’s perhaps one of the most important things you need to discuss before moving in together.
It’s important for both of you to be completely open and honest about your financial situations. Be sure to cover everything:
- What are each of you bringing in for monthly income?
- How much debt do you have? (i.e. credit card debt, student loans, car payments, lines of credit, etc.)
- Do you both have a savings plan? (this could be for a down payment on a new home, plans for wedding or travel, or even retirement)
- How will you split the rent or mortgage payments, and who will handle paying monthly bills?
Talking about money isn’t the easiest subject to cover, but it’s one that must be dealt with before combining your households, and perhaps eventually your bank accounts. Having secrets about debt and spending can not only cause trust issues within the relationship, but it could also have more tangible repercussions, like your ability to get a shared mortgage or loan in the future.
Here are more tips if you’re a first-time home buyer, or hope to be soon.
7. Create Routines Together
As mentioned above, moving in with your significant other means that your regular daily routine is likely going to change. It may be subtle things like having to wait to get into a shared bathroom, working around your partner while prepping meals in the kitchen, or sharing a TV. And, while this may cause some frustration in the beginning and take some getting used to, it’s also a great time to build new common routines.
Common routines can range from activities like taking morning or evening walks together, taking turns choosing the movie each weekend, or creating a meal plan where you work together on a special meal once a week. But you should also create routines around smaller things, like making sure you’re not taking too much time in a shared bathroom, doing meal prep the night before, or taking turns doing the dishes.
But, don’t forget to have fun and keep the romance alive as well!
“Romance is one of the most crucial elements of happiness in relationships. The importance of romance in a relationship cannot be trivialized,” says Kelli Hastings, Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
“We often do not realize how much work we were putting in in the beginning, nor do we understand why romance is important in marriage, and how a lack of romance can lead to an emotional breakdown and stagnancy.”
Even though you’re living together and get to see each other everyday, the day-to-day routine can take all the spontaneity and excitement out of your relationship. You should still make time and put in the effort to do things outside of the home. Plan date nights for one another, or take a cooking or dance class together. It doesn’t always have to be grand gestures of romance – even the smallest things will increase your bond and create memories you’ll cherish.
8. Take Alone Time When You Need It
Lastly, even though you’re going to be living with your significant other, don’t forget to take alone time for yourself, and in turn, give your partner space for their own alone time. Just because you’re living in the same space full-time doesn’t mean that it isn’t still important to schedule time to do things for yourself.
Once you’ve settled into your shared home, let your partner know about the things you like to do alone, like going to fitness or art classes. Or, it could mean creating a new space in the home to accommodate those interests, like an art room or home gym. You could even go so far as planning to build a “She-Shed” or “Man-Cave”.
Ultimately, taking your relationship to the next level and moving in with your partner will only be successful if you’re both on the same page and lines of communication are open. If you’re able to be patient and considerate of your partner, and they do the same, you’re on the right track and setting a great foundation for your new life living together.