When do our family interactions become toxic?
You’re finishing up another great night out with the love of your life, and inevitably the question comes up: are you sleeping at their house, or are they sleeping at yours? You’ve got a cat to feed, but your partner has work on the other side of town at 7am. At some point you start to think, this would be easier if we just lived together, wouldn’t it?
Here’s how to move-in mindfully:
Our personalities often manifest through our hobbies. Do you need a lot of natural light to paint? A special nook to write in? If meditation is part of your routine and playing the drums is a part of theirs, do you have a plan to respect those hobbies? It’s important to stake a claim in your shared space so it can feel like a home. Be open about how you like to spend your time, so you and your partner can create a happy environment that accommodates all the aspects of your personalities.
As well as the things you can see, like guitars and yoga mats, there are things you can’t—aspects of our personalities that are so ingrained, they are invisible to us as problems. Are you a noisy eater? Do you keep your shoes on in the house? Do you sit on the arm of the sofa? Do you shave over the sink and sweep it up days later? It takes awhile for people to get comfortable in a new space, so expect that new quirks about your partner (and yourself) will emerge over time. Make a buffer period of a few weeks where after you’ve both settled in, you can renegotiate some things.
When you move in with someone, and you’re splitting the rent, you become dependent on their financial stability. Money ebbs and flows—people lose their jobs, quit their jobs, get promoted, get sick—these things are easier to talk about if you already have an open dialogue about finances. Do you both have steady paychecks? Or does one of you freelance? If someone is planning to quit their job soon, is the other person willing to pay the rent? It helps to know in advance if someone is a saver or spender, with debt or without, a taxpayer or tax-evader…you don’t need to be aligned on all accounts, just informed in case the situation changes.
It’s easy to be intimate when you see each other two or three times a week. But once you move in, those nights aren’t unique and planned, they’re all your nights including upset stomachs, work exhaustion, and bad news days. Sex is part of a healthy relationship. It’s ok to acknowledge when it’s been a minute, when you’re hoping for more, when you’re a bit tired, and when you’re hoping to try something new.
Don’t forget that one of the most important relationships in your life will always be with yourself. It’s important to plan time that’s just for you before you desperately need it. The idea is to keep yourself balanced, not to wait ‘til you’re out of whack to rebalance. This doesn’t have to be a night on the town, it could just be that on Tuesday nights, you walk the dog by yourself. If you carve out this time in advance, it helps to prevent it from seeming like you’re irritated or tired of your partner. Instead, it’s just a thing that keeps you happy
It’s great to have couple friends and date nights and alone time, but don’t neglect the social life you had before your relationship. Living together means you have easy plans every night, so it’s important to step out of the box (and the apartment). Not only will this give you much needed time to vent, but having experiences outside of each other will give you something to talk about.
For as long as you live together, communication remains key. You don’t just buy a house and live in it. You have to clean it, repair it, take care of it. The same goes for your relationship. If your partner keeps striking up political discussions over morning coffee and you just want to read your book, don’t wait till you’re ready to move out to speak up. It’s as simple as saying, “hey honey, do you mind if we talk about that later? I’m feeling stressed about work and reading helps calm me down.”
All of these tips really boil down to being aware of what matters to your partner, being communicative about what matters to you, and being thoughtful toward each other. We fall in love and join our lives because that discovery process is exciting, enriching, and humbling. Moving in together is a plan, but living together is not—living together is a journey, and a lot like maintaining a house, maintaining a relationship takes work.