LIVING TOGETHER: PLAN AHEAD TO AVERT POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
Long before the moving van arrives to whisk you and your worldly possessions into your new cohabiting life, you and your partner need to keep many things in mind. For starters, living together presents a plethora of realities that you never needed to address while living alone (or with a friend, housemate, or family member). Once you become an intimate couple, both emotionally and physically, your relationship changes dramatically. You move through the romantic or “honeymoon” stage; to the very normal yet disappointing and, sometimes, even crushing “conflict and disillusionment” stage; to the “adjustment” (or “I’m learning to get used to her weirdness”) stage.
Chances are that when you decide to join households, you are still very much in the honeymoon mindset. You want to wake up every morning next to that beautiful and perfect love of your life.
So why talk about potential problems now, when life is so amazing? Why risk conflict? It sounds paradoxical, but discussing potential issues in a respectful and honest way will help you avoid them. Also, learning how to communicate in a healthy way now will enable you to deal with problems if they do arise. Living together should be well thought out and thoroughly planned. Moving in too quickly may lead to the relationship’s demise.
Here are some suggestions for you to consider before you move in together:
* Talk about your reasons for combining households. Is it because you think you should, or because you really want to? * Plan weekly meeting times and agendas for both before and after the move, to discuss details concerning your new living arrangements. The following are some examples of what you might talk about, to avoid stumbling blocks: Practical issues: Will it be a new space for both of you, or will one of you move into the other’s home? If the latter, what will that look like? How will the one who is moving in fit into the other’s world—especially in terms of finances (rent/mortgage), furnishings, possessions, pets, privacy, and so on? Other possible topics: household tasks, friends, extended family, holidays, vacations, meals, children, technology (Facebook and cell phones), bedtime, laundry, “outness” issues, travel, politics, leisure time, personal space and boundaries, drug and alcohol use, therapy, and, of course, sex!
In our relationship, talking about so many topics has brought us closer together in many ways. Being open and honest about our concerns has kept us in a very happy, content, and fun relationship. Under the following headings, we offer a sample question and challenge you to come up with as many others as you can.
Birthdays: How important is your birthday to you? Education: How do you feel about private school for our children? Transportation: Do you think of yourself as a good driver?
Here are some additional areas that you can discuss: work, relationship history, health, community, culture, and religion. And, feel free to include your own categories.
Keep your questions and answers in a notebook and, once you move in together, take time to talk about your answers (maybe with a cup of tea in front of the fireplace or in bed). You will learn so much more about your partner than you had ever imagined.
Enjoy this chapter in your relationship journey! Live together, laugh together, and, above all, have fun!