Hi. I’m not here to be an asshole today.
I recently saw a question by a dude who is having issues in his relationship after moving in with his girlfriend, clearly, this inspired me to write this article. I have seen firsthand the kind of troubles couples face when moving in together, as I’ve had many a new room-mate in my life. It’s typically the first six months which determine whether or not your relationship is strong enough to survive living together. Obviously, this is my opinion, so if you disagree … I don’t care but okay.
So, here’s how I think you can survive your first six months of living together.
Accept you no longer live alone
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But it’s ironically the biggest issue I’ve seen with people who move in together. They want to continue to live as they did when they were on their own with little to no desire to accommodate their partner. They want to continue to be a slob, continue to blast their music or play video games all night, or maybe micro-manage every little thing from where you put the dinner plates to how long you keep the lights on during the day. None of this can fly when you have someone else to consider. You have to learn how to accommodate the person you’re living with, making compromises to ensure you’re both comfortable and happy in the home you share. If this means you have to do the dishes after dinner instead of leaving them to fester for days or not losing your shit if he forgets to put the seat down, then that’s what it takes. Put your shoes away, keep the volume down while your partner sleeps, pick up your laundry. Do whatever it takes and get over yourself.
Pick and choose your battles
This kind of goes with my first point, but one of the most common things I see in couples who share their first home is a clashing of personalities, inevitably leading to constant fighting. It could be over simple things, or it could be you simply aren’t used to sharing your space and seeing the worst of your partner. You no longer have a day or two to cool off if you’ve fought with your partner, you come home from work and they’re in your face. It should come as no surprise then when I say you need to pick and choose your battles. Some things simply aren’t worth fighting about, and you have to learn when it’s a good time to really put your energy into an issue. I always tell people to ask themselves one thing: “Is this issue big enough where if I don’t address it, it will effect my relationship negatively?” Is it really worth getting into a screaming match because your girlfriend chews too loud when she eats? Probably not. However, if she’s made it a habit to come up short on the rent, but always seems to have money for shoes? Okay, that’s something you should address.
I won’t go so far as to say you shouldn’t voice your stance on an issue, even if its small. I simply suggest you choose what’s really worth getting riled up about.
Learn how to argue effectively
Seeing a general theme here yet? There’s a reason for it. Conflict and resolution are the two most prominent and important things you’ll need to learn how to master if you want to share your space with another opinionated body. It’s important because you will inevitably fight, even if you master the two points I detailed above. Even if you don’t “argue” per se, you will disagree or find yourself annoyed with them. So, it’s important to know how to handle this effectively.
First of all, make sure you’re calm and you have your thoughts collected. A lot of people I find derail their own arguments by not getting to the core of the issue. They let emotion drive them off the path of the main point to address smaller, insignificant problems that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Secondly, set your own ground rules. Make it clear you each will have a chance to speak and go uninterrupted. If either of you breaks that rule, call each other out on it. Don’t be afraid to refuse to tolerate shitty behaviour. If your partner talks over you, end the conversation until they’re willing to listen.
Thirdly, be willing to listen. You can’t expect to be heard by your partner if you refuse to do the same thing, so don’t be a hypocrite. You aren’t perfect and you aren’t always right, so, be willing to listen and accept your fault in an argument. You may be surprised to find out you’re at the core of the problem, even though you thought it was your partner.
Finally, keep it conversational. Arguments don’t have to be heated matches, you can just talk about things as you would with a friend or family member. I sometimes picture myself as a teacher or tutor trying to explain an equation to someone who doesn’t understand it. In this fictional position, you have to be professional, avoid hurt feelings and explain things in the most respectful and effective way possible. It creates trust and a greater bond with your partner for them to know you aren’t only open about your feelings, but you can address them when they make mistakes in a respectful way.
Maybe all of the bills are in your name when your partner moves in, or one of you works only part-time or not at all. Either way, neither one of you is more or less responsible for your home and all that comes with it. Regardless of your circumstance, there has to be a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. Whether its chores, bills, or anything of the sort, you have to make sure you predetermine what you expect your partner to take care of an vice versa.
You don’t necessarily need a chore board, but a basic, mutual understanding of: if I cook dinner, you do the dishes. Or: if I work all day and you’re at home, you should do most the cleaning/cook dinner. As well as: If I pay the majority of the rent, you should at least pay the Netflix bill.
If you enter this situation all willy-nilly with no clear understanding of what you expect or what is expected of you, you’re going to be in some tense and potentially awkward situations.
Before ever moving in, you need to decide who is paying for what. If one of you is paying more of the mutual bills, then its your responsibility to compensate appropriately.
How you do this is up to you, but some suggestions would be taking on key responsibilities including housework or being the primary provider of groceries and other goods. Keeping things fair is how you keep things functional.
I almost put this first, but this really should be common sense for anyone over the age of 19. Make sure you’re moving in at the right time, for the right reasons. Don’t date someone for two months and decide it’s time to move in together because you have mind-blowing sex and think you’re going to be married by the end of the year. You have to be realistic, regardless of how in love you are. You have to consider costs, you have to consider whether you even know the person, and you have to weigh what’s at stake if you take this plunge too soon. If you’re in what you consider to be a great relationship, but it’s only been a few months and you are still in a stage of fighting and/or jealousy, it’s not time to move in together. If it’s been at MINIMUM six months to a year, you guys get along, you’re financially stable and your relationship is healthy, have at er’.
That's all I had to say.
Love Jane. <3