Congratulations! It’s a big step forward in your relationship, but combining households can be as scary as it is exciting. You’ve both become accustomed to having your own space and doing things your way and now you’ll have to share space and make compromises. It will require making some adjustments, but by following these five guidelines, you can make the transition as smooth as possible.
The very first thing you need to do – even before you start packing any boxes – is lay down some ground rules. Who can put their stuff in which spaces? Which spaces are going to be communal? Who’s going to be in charge of which chores? Who’s paying for which bills?
The small details of day-to-day life might not seem like a big deal, but they can be the source of the most strife when two people decide to combine their lives into one living space. You have your habits and routine and the other person has theirs. Moving in together will require both of you to make some changes to those routines, and change (no matter how small) is never easy.
Know Your Space
One of the best ways to avoid conflict when it comes to your new space is to make sure you know the space inside and out. Be sure to measure every room, then measure them again. That way, you’ll know what you have to work with and which pieces of furniture will fit in which spaces. There’s no use on insisting your favorite coffee table should go in the living room if it turns out it doesn’t even fit between the couch and the TV stand.
If one of you is already inhabiting the space you’ll share, then the person who’s there needs to make sure to make closet and drawer space, and get rid of items that you have jointly decided to clear out.
Know What to Keep and What to Toss
This could mean pulling a Marie Kondo and discarding anything that doesn’t give you joy. Or you could use a more practical approach and simply get rid of duplicates. If you both have a sofa, but there’s only enough room in your new space for one, you’ll have to pick one. You can use whichever method to determine what goes and what stays that works for you, whether it’s flipping a coin or agreeing beforehand that each of you will get to keep a certain number of your own items and trading off who gets rid of their duplicate and who gets to keep theirs. This brings us to our next tip:
Know How to Deal with Conflict
No matter how in love and how willing to compromise you both are, there will inevitably be a certain amount of conflict that comes with combining two households into one. If you haven’t already, it might be time to take some courses and/or read some books on how to deal with conflict. Decide ahead of time how you’re going to react when your partner wants to keep the world’s ugliest chair, then do your best to stick to that plan and avoid losing your head in the heat of the moment.
Plan Your Moving Day
Finally, moving is a lot of work and even when everything goes right, it can be stressful. Good planning and strong communication will make this easier, so you and your partner need to create separate and joint to-do lists. If you’re moving into a new shared space, don’t assume that one person will automatically unpack the kitchen while the other person sets up the entertainment center. Assign each person tasks, and agree in advance. Take a guess at how long you think tasks will take, too. Having a plan to fall back on will help relieve the stresses.
While it can be tempting to get caught up in the excitement of taking the next step with the person you love, it’s still a good idea to take some time to consider the practical implications of taking this step. That way you’ll be prepared for any complications that arrive so you can make sure they don’t derail your happily ever after.