Moving in with a significant other is a big step in your relationship. Sure, you may have already spent a lot of time together and practically lived together already. However, this is the real deal. You used to be able to go to your respective homes for alone time when you needed it. Now you may have to ask for that time alone.
Define your expectations
Be clear with each other about what it means that you are moving in together. It is important for the success of your relationship to be on the same page about what it means to be living together at this stage in your relationship.
- Is moving in with your lover a trial to see how well you work together before a decision of getting married would be made?
- Is moving in with your lover a matter of convenience to save money and spend more time together without having an expectation that the two of you would get married?
- Is marriage the goal?
- How long would you live together before getting married?
- How much time do you see yourselves spending together?
- What does that time together look like?
- What does alone time look like?
- How will space be negotiated?
When you have lived with other roommates in the past it likely has had challenges in negotiating equal roles and your needs. You may think living with a partner will be easier to share your constructive criticism or asking for more help. However, some fall into the issue of expecting your partner to do everything you ask them to immediately and love you the whole time they’re doing it. Some of this is idealistic and tough to play out every day. With a friend or acquaintance
- How do each of you like to keep your living quarters?
- Think about the degree of clutter or dirt you are willing to allow
- What 3 chores do you each like the best? The 3 worst?
- Does each person get to do their preferred chores or will they be divvied up evenly or on a rotating chart?
- Does cleaning get scheduled into your routine or is each person expected to clean as you go and maintain the cleanliness agreed on?
- How will you navigate this when one person is working more, gets sick, or does not have the energy to uphold their weight of the household?
- How will bills be handled?
- Will you be splitting bills completely in half?
- Does the share depend on income with different percentages to show equal weight contributions?
- Will one person pay all the bills and the other entertainment expenses?
- Will you have a joint bank account?
- How much does the money split matter to each of you?
- How will you handle grocery shopping and payment?
- Will everything be shared or separate?
- If separate, are you allowed to eat each other’s food or respectfully ask first?
- If one person does the shopping how will the other help pay?
- How often will you eat meals together or be responsible for yourselves?
- What does cooking, meal time look like?
- TV on or off?
- Phones away or allowed?
- At the table or wherever convenient?
- What are the expectations for meal time?
- Will you do your laundry together or separate?
- What is shared space and private space?
- Negotiating visitors
- When can they come over?
- How long can they stay?
- A night, a weekend, week, month, or year?
- How will this be discussed?
- Who is allowed to come over without asking?
- Will anyone have their own keys?
- What will bedtime look like?
- Does one of you need the lights out?
- Is one of you an earlier riser with the other a night owl?
- Will you try to go to bed at the same time every night?
- Does one of you like to watch TV, read, or play on your phone before bed?
- Does someone need white noise or a night light left on throughout the night?
- How will issues with snoring or sleep apnea that may interrupt the other’s sleep be handled?
- When is it ok to go out with friends alone?
- Do you need to check in with each other’s schedules before making plans with friends?
- Will you do most social things together as a couple?
- When do you need alone time with friends?
- Alone time from your partner?
- How much time do you like to spend together? How much doing things outside of the house?
- Are you allowed to use each other’s things?
- Have access to each other’s phone or computer passwords?
- What is off limits for each other to use or access to is an invasion of privacy?
Prepare for their Quirks
Know that you will be getting to know your lover on a whole other level. Prepare for this and have a positive mindset to point out what makes you appreciate them and love them more. Beginning this stage of your relationship with more criticism than positives will wear away at your relationship and form a pattern that may get very difficult to break. Train yourself to see the quirks as endearing rather than pet peeves. Decide which quirks impact you so negatively that you feel you need to address them with your partner. Living with a lover brings a whole new level of awareness to each other, but if you don’t pick your battles it can really feel like you two are just picking on each other for every little thing.
Living with your lover is the ultimate way you are seen by each other. Noticing each other’s quirks and taking status of how you two are doing as roommates is important. These conversations must include both positives and negatives. Instead of thinking how much their behavior makes you mad, try to imagine what their perspective of the issue is before talking with them about it. Might they have no idea this upsets you or limited awareness of them doing it in the first place? Given everything you know about them, why does it make sense they are quirky in that way. Relate that to the things you love about them and why you chose to move in with your lover. Focus on those positive traits that occasionally pushes your buttons and then find a way to bring the bigger issue items up with them.
A lot of growth comes from having conversations that recognize you are both human and bound to make mistakes throughout your household. It is important to have them without blaming the other person for showing they do not care about you for their actions when really, they are just quirks of their personality and how they are in their normal living arrangements. When you talk about what behavior you would like to change, be specific about the incident that occurred rather than saying the always or never do something.
Instead of “You leave the kitchen a disaster in the morning and it makes me mad at you all day long”
Try: “I have noticed how efficient you are in getting ready this morning. It seems like you multitask and try to help out, but you end up leaving the cupboards open only putting half of the dishes away. I appreciate the gesture to clean up our shared space, but it often ends up in more of a mess. Let’s come up with a better idea to help each other keep the kitchen clean. How can I help you not feel so rushed and like you have to do so much at a time?”
Instead of “You slob! You always leave the cap off of the toothpaste. You know how much that annoys me. It’s like you’re deliberately trying to piss me off”
Try: “I know some little things are a bigger deal to me than they are to you. For instance, today I noticed the toothpaste cap left off. I feel disrespected when you forget to put the cap on the toothpaste causing it to dry up and make a mess on the counter. What am I leaving a mess that really irks you?”
After you have had a chance to settle into your place with your lover, a bigger conversation will need to happen regarding how you are doing with your respective roommate roles and where you are at with the expectations you had set for the relationship leading up to moving in together. If your goal was marriage, talk about how moving in together changed your readiness to get married. If you decided a cohabitating partnership was the end goal and are satisfied with that make sure you are both on the same page and your reasoning behind that choice. Discuss smaller steps towards your goals and what you each need from each other to help each other be more effective roommates and lovers. For more help improving the cohabitation element of your relationship, idenitfy the type of cohabitating couple you resemble and be in control of working on being the best version of your relationship you can be, together.
To find a couples therapist near me, contact The Center For Growth at 215 922 5683 x 100 and speak to a therapist today. The Center for Growth offers InPerson and Virtual counseling sessions near you. Offices are now located in Ocean City NJ, Mechanicsville VA, Philadelphia PA and Santa Fe NM