A friend of mine just moved 5 states away to move in with her boyfriend. They have been dating for 2 years and are very serious about one another. Shortly into dating, he accepted a job in DC and they have had a long distant relationship ever since. This friend of mine is nervous about making such a big move. It can be scary to just uproot everything to live with someone. I keep assuring her things will be fine. If it is meant to be the transition will go smoothly – or at the very least the kinks will work themselves out without too much damage.
As I dished out advice I couldn’t help but reminisce of when we moved in together. Chuck and I have been together for 12 years, we lived together for 5 and have been married for 2. I remember our moving in process. I knew the move could make or break us. There was a time in that 12 year period where we split up for over a year. When we came back together, we promised one another if it didn’t work out that was it. We wouldn’t do the back and forth thing. Lucky for me (and him) it never came to that.
When it was time to move in, the jitters were there. I was afraid that he would be too messy, or I would want my space and he would always be around. But we made it work. As a matter of fact the transition was much easier than I imagined. It was like two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. Yes, we had some kinks to iron out, however prior to moving together, one of our main sticking points was finding enough time to spend together. As we dated we lived 4 cities apart, we both worked with 2 cities in between, and there was a large chunk of time I was an overzealous college student.
When we moved in together, that fight never happened again. It was easier to be together, living with the one you love. I wanted him to go out and have fun with his friends, because I knew he would be coming home to me. As for the messy slob side – Yes he is a slob, I am a neat freak. That conversation still takes place. But that is it. We are so happy to live and co-exist with one another. We have our home and it is filled with everything that is us. When it came time for marriage, the big step was already taken, we were just making it official on paper.
To couples thinking of cohabiting, or even those who are married and living together, here is my advice to you.
- Split the chores 50/50. It is both your space therefore you should share responsibilities. When we moved in we divided the household tasks among us.
- Respect the other person and their space. We have a small 3 room 1 bath apartment. It is easy to get crammed but he has his area, I have mine and then we have our space together.
- Help the other when then ask for it. This was a learning curve for me. I just assumed he would see dirty floors and think to sweep or a trash can overflowing and it would tip him off to take the trash out. I would become upset when he didn’t, but he shared with me that he isn’t a mind reader – or tuned into those things. When I asked he would take care of it.
- Learn their quirks. I know Chuck is a last-minute Sally. He is going to want to shave 10 minutes before we have to leave and hand me a wrinkled shirt 5 minutes before we go out the door. I make sure, I am ready before him and then am there to help get him out the door.
- Surprise one another. Don’t be afraid to bring flowers or dessert home. And every now and then surprise the other with a candlelight dinner. One of Chuck’s favorite things to do is to go food shopping and buy stuff (I like) but least expect. When we first lived together, after a while I told him the gourmet olives were a nice touch but not if they cost $7 a container.
- Go on dates. It is always nice to get dressed up and head out to spend time together.
- It is also nice to plan movie or game nights in. Something should be said for being able to live with the person you love and being completely comfortable in your sweat pants as you lay together on the couch.
- Don’t hog technology. Our computer is in the living room. The rule is one person on the computer, the other gets the TV.
- Compromise. Life is all about compromising. When Chuck and I were first together (before the split) we were both selfish. We wanted 100% our way and didn’t care about anyone else. When we got back together we promised to listen to each other and to make this relationship work. That is what compromise is about, 50% of the way is a hell of a lot better than 0%.
Those are 9 tips that have helped us on our journey from dating, to cohabiting, to marriage. What advice do you have of living with your significant other?