If You Moved In With Your Partner, Here’s How How To Make The Best Out Of The First Year Together
Moving in together is a really big, exciting step in any relationship. Not surprisingly, however, it is a life transition that can bring with it many highs and lows, and a few circumstances you might not have considered beforehand. But trust that while there is no rule book for what to expect during the first year of living with your partner, there are things you can do to make it easier as you go along!
"A lot of couples move in together excited and thinking that their love for each other will make it work," counselor David Bennett, who runs Double Trust Dating, a relationship coaching program, tells Bustle. "The reality is that living with someone is hard, and can bring with it challenges."
Bennett says that you want to go into the big move not out of convenience, but because you really want to take this step. This can better assure that whatever comes up as you learn to live together will be approached from a place of love and mutual respect.
"You can find that living with your partner will amplify [the good qualities] of your relationship and you'll enjoy the extra time living together provides," Bennett says. But don't be worried if there are a few learning curves and road bumps! Below, take a look at some of the ways you can cope with all that comes along in your first year of living with your love.
1. Make Some Allowances For Spending Your Downtime Differently
An issue that can arise is simply the difference in how each of you spends your down time, Bennett says.
"Some people love alone time and need it, especially after a busy day at work," Bennett says. "Other people really want to spend their downtime with their partner, catching up on the day and spending some engaging time together."
When it comes to realizing these differences, having respect for each other's needs is really important, but so is spending some time with your partner the way that is most important to them. If you want to go read a book alone, but your partner wants to cuddle and watch TV, make a compromise a few nights a week.
2. Be Immediately Upfront About Financial Differences
One major issue that couples can come across when making the move in is financial differences, Bennett says.
"Are you a spender or a saver? What about your partner? Is the heat turned up to 72 in the winter for comfort or 64 to save energy? Do you split the bills evenly or based on who uses what?" Bennett says. "These differences will come out really quickly when you're living with someone."
So for reasons both practical and emotional it's really important that you have frank and thorough conversations about finances before you move in. Not only about how you are going to deal with the expenses you share, but also about other daily spending habits and expectations, Bennett says. This way nothing comes as too big of a surprise where money is concerned, you can make a budget and create money boundaries as a couple, and you can discuss how to deal with any financial differences with fairness and compassion.
3. Make Time For Regular, Honest Communication
Communicating honestly about moving in together was the first step to this big change, but talking and sharing openly while you're together needs to be a continued priority.
"The first year will involve getting used to the situation, and figuring out if it can work," Bennett says. "Honest communication is the only way to handle any issues."
It's true that there are things about your lifestyle and even your communication style that you will probably have to compromise on or shift, as that is the nature of sharing a life with someone. But the more you practice being open and straightforward with your partner, the more smoothly things will run.
Or, on the other hand, you will know much more quickly if you come to an impasse on particular issues — even if that's finding out that maybe you don't want to live together anymore — and you can deal with what to do next from there.
4. Don't Let The Little Things That Bother You Build Up Without Discussion
This is another thing that all hinges around regular communication. But if there are "little things" you notice — like constant messiness or always leaving the door unlocked — know that it is OK to bring these issues up with kindness instead of sweeping it all under the rug. Not every uncapped toothpaste tube warrants a long chat, but it really is OK to talk about differences at first until you find a rhythm.
"[Some things that bother you] are just the natural transition in moving in and living with another person, but maybe it always isn’t that simple and needs a discussion," Dr. Liz Jenkins, LMFT, who is also a life transitions and relationship coach, tells Bustle.
"Take the time now to talk about both the things that seem like a perfect fit and those that might be an adjustment," Jenkins says.
If you keep overlooking everything that bugs you, you are implying these things are OK. Later on, Jenkins says, maybe even years into the relationship, it can cause a lot of tension and confusion when everything you really feel comes bubbling to the surface.
"The time is now, in the early stages of a committed relationship to start talking, discussing, compromising, and changing," Jenkins says.
5. Set Up Daily Lifestyle Guidelines And Boundaries
Sometimes people have really different ideas about how to run a household, from what's on the grocery list to when it's OK to have a little party — kind of all the regular roommate issues, just with, you know, your partner.
"The couple should sit down and set expectations on how they want the living situation to be," counselor Dr. Sophia Reed, who has a PhD in human behavior, tells Bustle.
That's everything from how late to have friends over, how to split extra expenses, and even what to do when you notice the other one is in a bad mood. If you start talking about each other's needs and wants from the get-go, it leaves less room for major lapses in understanding that can lead to unhappiness at home.
6. Get Professional Support If Things Seem Difficult
If you are having a hard time with the transition of living together, know that this is totally common! And whether things seem seriously difficult or the stress of a new situation is feeling like just a little too much, know that reaching out for some professional support during this time is a great option.
"The fear that comes with adjusting to the fact that you and your partner have just taken your relationship to the next level can lead to picking fights with your partner, distancing from your partner, and looking for any other reason that things are bad," relationship therapist Shirani M. Pathak, who runs the Center for Soulful Relationships in California, tells Bustle.
"Alternatively, it can also lead to the false thoughts that you need to be perfect and show your partner what a perfect partner you can be," Pathak says. "This leads to a different set of frustrations from your end."
7. Brainstorm Ways To Keep Your Interest And Spark Alive
"It might shock you to find that the person you were so excited about living with no longer makes the butterflies in your stomach flutter," Anita P. Stoudmire, MA, LPC, founder of Better Love Movement, tells Bustle. Familiarity can make things less exciting, for some, on an emotional and sexual front.
"Now that you and your partner are sharing space, you may find that the certainty of their presence is a buzzkill," Stoudmire says.
But imagining and discussing the importance of adventure, whatever that might mean to you, is really important. As is giving each other time and space to continue completely being their own person! This only adds to keeping the relationship deep and interesting.
While the first year of cohabitation might have its challenges, know that it can also bring new and wonderful levels to the relationship you have yet to experience. Here's to happy living with your loved one!