Domestic Bliss – How to Manage Moving in with a Partner
So, you’ve been dating for a while and you’re ready to make the next step. You have agreed to live with your partner – congratulations! You’re about to embark on a great new journey. Just ensure that you give your relationship the greatest chance to surviving the experience.
Accept That Life is About to Change
First thing’s first. Living with your beloved in a shared home is not the same as taking a week-long holiday. You’re about to spend a lot more time together, which means you’re about to learn a lot more about each other’s habits.
Perhaps more importantly, you’re about to discover just how well you can cope with the hum-drum realities to day to day life. Right now, while you’re living apart, it’s an easier life. You can do a quick tidy before your significant other comes over, ensure the fridge is full, and focus on the fun stuff.
Living together is different. Those dishes can’t necessarily sit in the sink for days. Your weekends will involve less days out and mini breaks and more trips to Ikea and the supermarket. You will have to pick up your towel after you’ve used it. The bathroom floor is not a towel rail.
Living together can, and should, be great. It’s not the same as just visiting another home, though. There will be a period of adjustment. It may be advisable to attempt a trial run by house-sitting for a friend first.
Decide what is a non-negotiable, keeping these to a minimum, and agree to compromise on anything else. That also includes location and characteristics of a home. If you’re convinced that you’ll only be happy in a house and not a flat, that’s fine – but be prepared to grant your partner a greater say in the location of this house or the interior decor if you’re unprepared to budge on that.
Manage Your Financial Commitments
Money is sometimes claimed to be the root of all evil. It’s certainly the starting point for a lot of interpersonal drama. Make sure you draw up a plan before moving in as to who is paying for what, and when. Decide if this will be an even 50/50 split on everything or a pro rata arrangement based on your respective earning power.
Decide Whether to Rent or Buy
You’ll also have a major mutual decision on your hands. Are you going to rent together, or if the opportunity presents itself, would you prefer to buy your shared home? This is a question that must be answered.
There are pros and cons to both options. Renting affords a certain flexibility. You can decide to experiment with different areas once your lease expires. You have fewer responsibilities, as you can just inform the landlord if something goes wrong. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, it will be easier to go your separate ways if the relationship ends.
However, renting is not as stable as purchasing. If you’re confident that you’re ready, buying your first home together can be a great investment. You’ll get on the property ladder, and you can decorate the home to whatever way you see fit.
Just be aware that, in many respects, a shared mortgage is an even bigger commitment than marriage. You are financially tied to each other for as long as you stay in the property.
Compromise, but Maintain Your Non-Negotiables
Two does not go into one. That’s just basic maths. This means that you’re going to need to compromise. You’ll both have your own possessions that you want to maintain, but there won’t be enough space for everything. You’ll have to decide what hills you are prepared to die on – something is going to have to give to give, on both sides.
Consider a joint account for household bills and expenses. This way, you can contribute to the account and ensure that everything is covered on the first of the month. After that, it’s down to the two of you how you spend your money – and there will no logistical headaches, such as wallets or purses being lost and current accounts being frozen when bills are due.
Sorry to say, but you are going to have disagreements when you live together. That’s part and parcel of sharing a home. Unless you’re both emotionless automatons, tempers will periodically flare. This will likely start on moving in day, given that is a famously stressful experience!
While the act of conflict in and of itself is not a huge drama, how you manage it can make or break a successful co-habitation. When you are setting up your new home, consider assigning cooling off territory for each of you. This way, you’ll have somewhere to retreat to after a difference of opinion. A little time apart may be all it takes to reunite and calmly resolve the problem.
In fact, serious consider this zoning anyway – even if you’re getting along famously. It isn’t healthy to grow co-dependent and constantly live on top of each other. Let one of you claim the kitchen while the other prefers to dwell in the attic, for example. It’s better than locking yourself in the bathroom for an hour at a time as that’s the only way you’ll get any time alone.
Moving in with a partner is a big step, and it should be an exciting one. Do whatever you can to make the process as seamless as possible. If you get your new life together off on the right foot, you’re much likelier to enjoy the days, months and years that follow.