If you've lived with roommates, then you know sharing an apartment or house can be tricky business. First there's splitting the rent, which shouldn't be dramatic — but almost always is. Then there's sharing the space (kitchen, bathrooms, etc.), and all the theatrics that come with that. So when you decide to move in with your partner, it can be a chance to get away from all of chaos and finally live a life free of turmoil.
But unlike sharing an apartment with roommates, sharing a space with your significant other kind of has a lot more on the line. Not only are you physically sharing more space — like a bed and (most likely) the closet — but you're sharing your lives in a pretty intimate way. This can, quite unfortunately, make living with your partner just as wild as living with a bunch of mismatched friends.
Don't panic, though. Living with your SO can be easy peasy if you guys talk things out, stay on the same page, and make plans to be supportive and awesome. Where communication dropped in your old living environment, cohabiting with a significant other means there's a better chance that things will be a-OK. After all, this is your partner in crime, so there's no reason to believe that you guys can't make it work. Below are some expert tips on how to do just that. And here's hoping it's your best experience yet.
1. Choose A Place That's Within Both Of Your Means
Nothing puts a damper on a blissful home life quite like arguing over rent. So, before you even think about signing a lease, make sure you're both on the same page when it comes to splitting costs. "If you think you'll feel resentful picking up your partner's financial slack, then don't choose a place beyond their means," said Craig Malkin, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. And in the same vein, don't let your SO move in for free if there's any chance that's secretly going to bother you. Being up front about these things from the start will save you both a lot of drama.
2. Get Yourselves A Joint Account
As far as other budget-related things go, you guys can keep a running tally for things like groceries and date night expenses. Or, you can make things way easier and open a joint bank account. If you decide to go with the latter, then agree on how much cash you'll both put in each month and use it for shared expenses. It'll be way more romantic — and simpler — than constantly nickel and diming each other.
3. Set Up Some Apartment Rules
OK, so you're getting into the groove of sharing a space together, but little things are becoming a problem — like who gets to shower first, or who chooses the movie on movie night. Believe it or not, disagreements like these can become a big deal, so make it a point to come up with some apartment rules, ASAP. Decide together how you'll handle these scenarios, and consider writing everything down, according to lifestyle writer Roxanna Font in More. That way, you'll both know what's what, and can follow the rules to a T.
4. Create A Chore Chart
I know, this sounds like something you'd do in second grade. But making a chore chart is way better than resenting each other as the dishes and garbage pile up. "Decide what you want to do and state out loud or record on paper what you've done," Malkin said. Make a list, check things off, and keep your apartment maintenance as balanced as possible.
5. Give Yourselves Some Alone Time
Yes, those first few weeks together will feel like pure semi-wedded bliss. And you'll definitely want to cuddle and have sex all the damn time. Once things settle down, however, you'll both start to crave alone time. This is not only totally OK, but it's also incredibly necessary. "Having time away from your partner reminds you of the identity you had before [they] came along," said Font. "No matter how much you love each other, everyone needs breathing room every once in a while.
6. Have Weekly Or Monthly Meetings
In the beginning, make it a point to sit down to talk about how things are going. "Initially [these meetings will] need to be more consistent to establish financials, household schedules, chores, and other duties necessary to run the household," says Dr. Michele Barton in an email to Bustle. "Following establishment of the structure, things run much more smoothly and meetings [will] not need to be as frequent."
7. Be Willing To Compromise
If things aren't going as smoothly as planned, remind yourselves that living together is all about compromise. "This is a big change for both of you [and] it will take time to adjust," Barton says. "But if given the time, space, and emotional support to do so, things are likely to fall into place more quickly."
8. Contribute Equally To The Decorating
If you're moving into your partner's already established space, then this one can be a bit tricky. But if you two are starting fresh in a new place, make sure you chat about the decorating. "You both want to feel invested in your new surroundings," Font said. This means agreeing on furniture, who gets to bring what, and how you'll set up the space. If you guys can agree, it'll feel much more like "home" for both of you.
9. Try Not To Argue Over Every Little Thing
You're going to get on each other's nerves — no doubt about it. Know that going in, and decide now that you'll pick your battles. As Malkin said, "Living with a partner involves negotiation, but it shouldn't be constant." So don't boil over with rage when he leaves the cereal box out, and don't blow up when she leaves a light on. Sure, you can chat about each other's quirks. But learn to let most things slide.
10. Recognize That There Will Be Ups And Downs
This is a huge step, and one that will come with its fair share of problems. As Barton says, "This is an ongoing bumpy yet sustained situation that needs to be moderated carefully, or you won't hit the finish line together." Knowing that, and working through issues together, is the key to happily living together.
11. Remember To Have Fun
When chore charts and bills abound, it can be easy to forget to have fun. So make it a point to enjoy each other's company. Have breakfast together, schedule date nights, and make light of stressful situations. You may have a lot of responsibilities, and a lot to get used to, but you also get to live with your best friend.
And what could be better than that?
Images: Pexels (11); Unsplash, William Stitt