Relationships are constantly changing and developing over time. We all hope that our relationships will improve and grow, and are understandably pleased when this happens. Event eh good changes, though, can result in growing pains. Moving in together is a big step, and if you’ve decided to make the move, congratulations! Much of our identity is tied to our homes – by moving in together, you and your partner are allowing your identities to more intimately include one another than ever before. This is exciting, but the transition can be tough, too. Egos, histories, habits, and preferences smash up against one another with a bit more force than we often anticipate. Here are some fool-proof ways to ease the transition, and make it the exciting and positive change that it ought to be.
Use Neutral Ground – This is a tough one – most couples who move in together move into one or the other’s existing home. If you have a great apartment, or own your home, this is sometimes unavoidable, but if it’s at all possible I highly recommend that both parties move, and into a brand new place. If you were to move into my apartment, even if you were sharing the rent, chores, and spaces, it would take us both a long time to stop thinking of the place as mine, potentially causing some territorial disputes. It happens all the time. If you can swing it, don’t just make another key to your place – turn in all of your keys and explore new territory together.
Go Through Your Stuff Alone – Moving in together often means the magical duplication of household items. Blenders, bookshelves, pots and pans – both parties my well have all of these things. There’s absolutely no reason that you need two toasters in your kitchen, but it might be helpful to know exactly how you feel about your toaster before unpacking. Go through your personal stuff before the move, and mark it all with post-it notes. “K” means you absolutely want to KEEP the item – maybe it has sentimental value, or it’s the best damn toaster you’ve ever owned. “L” means that you LIKE the item – you’ve got some attachment to that dresser, as it’s been with you for a while, but if your partner’s dresser turns out to be marked with a “K,” you’re willing to let it go. “N” means NO ATTACHMENT. You’re not particularly into the item, and will gladly let it go in favor of your partner’s “K” or “L.” Finally, “T” means “TOSS” – perhaps those ice trays have holes in them, but you’ve been too lazy to buy new ones. Be fair, but honest, and ask your partner to do the same with their stuff. Moving day is stressful, and losing one too many of these discussions without having prepared for it doesn’t help you to set a positive tone to your new arrangement.
Create Personal Space – It doesn’t matter where it is – I once had a personal refuge set up in the large closet of a shared apartment. Having some space that is without questions yours to do with what you please goes a long way toward helping you to feel at home. Make sure that your partner has some space, too, even if it means sacrificing a little bit of common space. Agree that there will be no restrictions put on how or when the space can be utilized, and honor the agreement always. Retire to your space whenever you need a breather.
Just because you’ve decided to share your homes doesn’t mean that you’ll always be on the same page. These tips will help you to set the tone for a respectful, loving, and successful cohabitation, and will make moving day – always a little stressful – easier for both of you. Happy moving!