It happens in many of our lives, that moment when you realize you are happy with another person, that you enjoy their company so much, that you long to be near them so many times a day…. These incredible feelings come over you and you inevitably make what seems to be a sound decision at the time: you move in together. You begin the process of merging your lives into one. You move your things into his place (or his into yours), you start to build what will be ‘ours’ out of what was ‘yours’ and ‘his’. And after all this, you stop at the end of the day, you take a deep breath, and you just look at each other. Rather warm at first, it’s cozy and wonderful, this new found ‘us’. After about 5 minutes of this happiness you begin to realize something is different: you’re not on some extended date; nobody’s going home at the end of the night–you are home. Then you begin to realize the big question. (And no, I don’t mean “WHAT HAVE WE DONE?”) But rather, what do we do now? How do we make this work?
- Accept and Respect individual spaces. You cannot begin to hope that every place in your home will be an ‘us’ place. For a healthy relationship, both persons need somewhere to retreat, or call their own. Everyone needs somewhere to feel in control. Agree on these spaces.
- Respect routines. If he continuously leaves his keys on the kitchen counter, and you’d rather have your clean counter space, find a place where he can leave his keys. And let him leave his keys there! If he has to start the day with a sugary snack, let him. Don’t change him just because you’re there.
- Agree on money. Most people will start talking exit strategies at this point. Plan for the breakup. That’s sound advice when you’re in a divorce, but nobody wants to hear it when they first move in together. So get it over with. It doesn’t have to be a drawn out affair, just decide on basic issues: rent, utilities, vacations, hair color for men…. decide now who will pay for what. If you truly love and respect each other, don’t let it be a deal breaker. Just jot it down, sign it, and put it away. (And decide now how you’re gonna feel when you’re in line at the grocery store and you see HIS green beans in the cart and you KNOW you don’t eat green beans. Are you gonna pay for it? Are you gonna keep a list of things you paid for that you don’t use??? Seriously, decide what you’ll do now and just get it over with. These little issues have a way of building up.) And also about money, if one party makes more money than the other, there should be some factoring in of this disproportionate cash flow. It’s life: you make more, you pay more. You don’t like it: date inside your socioeconomic status.
- Be understanding if he’s moving into your place. Even if you are paying the house note you cannot use that to justify making all the decisions on your own. You asked this person to move in and become a part of your life, be considerate of how it might feel to leave a personal space and move-in to someone else’s space; it can be very scary for the person who is doing the moving; it can take a lot of time before the person feels like they aren’t imposing. Be considerate.
- Respect private time. It’s ok to live together but do things separately.
Not a lot of ground breaking information. But helpful.