Sharing a home with your significant other when youíre dating can be a very different world than staying at your own separate places. Your most sacred spaces and oodles of alone time might be a thing of the past with someone else around all the time. Itís not that you shouldnít take the risk, especially for love, but going into such a big change blindly could ruin a healthy relationship. Here are a number of things you should consider in order to cohabitate successfully.
Choosing to Move In Together
This is such a big decision, and thereís no reason to rush. In fact, moving in with together could kill your relationship. Of course, this doesnít have to be the case, especially if you both understand why youíre choosing to share a home.
Are you moving in because you want to save money on housing costs? The financial convenience of sharing two incomes can absolutely be a factor, but hopefully it isnít the only reason.
Are you moving in because you want to make your relationship more official? Living together may be a traditional sign of a serious relationship, but it doesnít have to define a happy one.
You may not be able to catch every potential red flag or disclose all of your quirks before moving in together. This is part of the challenge and joy of really getting to know someone. However, being on the same page about your intentions can help ensure you get off to a good start at this new life together and avoid doing so for the wrong reasons.
Buying or Renting Your First Shared Home
Itís important to have a conversation ó or many, many conversations ó about your goals for a home before deciding where youíll live. Is there an part of town or a city where youíve always wanted to live? Are there some things you canít live without? Donít keep these a secret from your partner. You may still need to make compromises, but communicating how you feel is an essential part of successfully cohabitating.
In many cases, one person will give up their apartment or sell their house to move in with their partner, although this might just be temporary until you find your dream home. Or you may choose to search right away for a new place that is better suited to your needs. Whatever motivates you to begin your search, itís important to consider many factors when buying or renting a home.
Beyond reflecting on how serious you feel about the relationship, try to honestly assess where each of you are in your careers and how financially stable you are. Buying a big, beautiful house can feel like a dream come true, but being unprepared for the financial burden can put a significant strain on your relationship. Struggling to pay rent or make your mortgage payment can lead to resentment, and you could lose the house or apartment.
Even if you find a home you can both afford, you should have a detailed conversation about financial expectations in general. Finances may not be the most romantic subject, but it can save you major headaches down the road. For example, how will you divide rent and other bills? Sometimes this is determined by who makes more money, but itís up to you to make arrangements clear. When youíre just dating, itís difficult to judge someoneís spending and saving habits. Set goals together and stick to them, month to month.
Although itís difficult to predict some major changes in your life, you should also discuss each of your interest levels in traveling for long periods of time, moving to another part of the country, going back to school, or making a major career change. If you arenít sure of your plans, buying a house may not be your best option. Instead, renting would allow you to easily pick up and go without having to muddle through the long process of trying to sell your house.
Finally, consider that moving is a stressful event and could be a major test to your relationship before you even move in. Instead of trusting that everything will fall into place, create a plan for your move together to avoid unnecessary struggles. This means taking care of the more boring aspects of this romantic venture, such as transferring your utilities and changing your address with the post office and your other bills.
Youíll also probably both need to downsize your belongings, which means selling or donating clothes, appliances, and other belongings you havenít used in a while. If youíre helping pack each otherís belongings, communicate often about what is important and where things should go. No one wants to be responsible for losing or damaging their partnerís most-prized possessions during a move.
Adjusting Sleeping Arrangements
Depending on the nature of your relationship, youíve probably slept at your significant otherís place before ó maybe for night or two or just on the weekends. However, the occasional sleepover is nothing compared to sleeping next to someone night after night. For example, maybe his snoring was cute at first, but now you kind of hope he falls asleep on the couch. (No need to wake him.)
Youíll probably learn many things about your partnerís sleeping habits you didnít know before you moved in together. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies for getting better sleep with your significant other despite some of the most common and disruptive sleeping habits:
Snoring is often caused by sleeping on your back, and for the 37 million adults who snore habitually, snoring also increases with age. This isnít good news for a long-term relationship. The easiest way to solve this issue is to give your partner a gentle nudge, which should stop the snoring at least long enough for you to get back to sleep. If this is a consistent issue, however, it might be a good idea to see a sleep specialist about other solutions as snoring can be a sign of serious conditions like sleep apnea.
One person taking all of the covers is another common habit your partner probably isnít aware of. Try using separate blankets beneath your comforter so you can each control how much cover you have throughout the night.
Separate blankets can also help alleviate problems that might arise if your partner is a restless sleeper, creating a more separate space for each of you.
Some people like to sleep in a cold room, while others prefer warmer temperatures. If your partner differs with you on this factor, the fair thing to do is choose a temperature somewhere in the middle of your preferences. Then you could choose to wear lighter or thicker pajamas or find a different blanket to meet your own needs.
If you canít find a solution and sleep deprivation becomes an issue, itís perfectly healthy for couples to sleep in separate bedrooms. You can cuddle in bed or on the couch when youíre awake, but preserving your quality of sleep can save your relationship and keep you happy together during the day.
Sharing Household Chores
Often, one person in a relationship tends to be more motivated to get started on tasks like washing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and organizing the house. This person might even say they enjoy the tasks or that cleaning helps them to relieve stress. However, if they are the only one contributing to the state of your home, the issue can quickly become an emotional burden.
As with other areas involved with living together, this is something you should talk about together. First, itís a good idea to identify what chores are important to each of you as well as what your definition of ďcleanĒ happens to be. For example, maybe one person doesnít realize that leaving empty soda cans around the house is an issue. Kindly letting the person know this is something that bothers you can help your partner to be more mindful and develop habits that work for both of you.
Once youíve identified what tasks need to be done, aim to divide them evenly, considering the effort and time it takes to do each task. Also, try to choose tasks you donít absolutely hate. This can keep your system from breaking down over time. When dividing chores, avoid keeping score and holding some sort of chore debt over your partnerís head. While competition can be useful and even fun in some situations, this can lead to feelings of resentment.
Setting a calendar reminder on certain days of the week can help create a system of checking in about a chore. This will help ensure the chores actually get done in without forcing one partner to seem like theyíre nagging the other. Also, consider that itís kind to take the lead on something, even if itís not typically your responsibility. Often tasks wonít take very long, and getting simple tasks out of the way without being asked or otherwise prompted can be an act of love.
For many people, moving in with your partner can be a wonderful next step in your relationship. This is especially true if you communicate your expectations before, during, and after the move, and be willing to compromise to meet your partnerís needs. With some effort and a bit of luck, youíll have long, happy lives together, taking responsibility for your living habits and adjusting as you go.