How to Move in Together

In times when the divorce rate is going through the roof, most couples are hesitant to commit themselves to marriage for fear of finding out that they are not really suited to be long-term partners. And yet, it is only natural that two people in a serious relationship would want to share a life together. In such a situation living together without being formally married seems to offer a reasonable alternative. Even then sharing a life and home can involve major changes and in order to make the process easier, here are a few tips on moving in together.

Establish a few ground rules

Most people are brought up in a certain way and grow up believing that a particular way of doing things is better than others. Though most of the times adults outgrow such prejudices as they gain experience and maturity, but even tolerant people retain a surprising number of untested assumptions shaped by life experience. Thus once you move in with your partner, you may start having slight-to-serious differences in your beliefs about what is "normal." From doing laundry to dealing with stress, you probably tend to think that your way is the way, but your partner may not necessarily share your view. In case of couples from different cultures, religions and races, such diverging lifestyles and values may prove to be even more of a stumbling block. The best way to avoid this is to establish a few ground rules from the beginning. Whether it’s “Keep the toilet seat down,” “No bread crumbs in bed,” or “Dirty clothes go in the hamper, not on the floor,” getting clear on one another’s guidelines will iron out many niggling issues of sharing a home. The mundane realities of living together are not really the stuff of romance, but you can focus on making the best of what you’ve got by getting clear on your shared boundaries.

Redecorate Together

Whether you and your partner are moving into a new place together or one of you is moving into the other’s home, try and work on the living arrangements together. while a new house may need painting, papering and furnishing, even in an already set-up house, making room for another will require moving about furniture, new storage space as well as putting up knick-knacks. Collaborating on the d├ęcor will not only bring you closer, it will give each of you a sense of ownership in your new abode. On a deeper level a home makeover gives you the chance to find out how you work together as you blend your lives.

Thrash out Housework issues

Most couples move in together without giving a thought to who is going to take care of what in the shared household. In case of marriage the gender roles are roughly pre-determined – for instance cleaning and cooking is usually the lot of wives while vehicle maintenance and repair jobs are taken up by the husbands. But living together presents a peculiar situation – the conditions simulate marriage but are not held down by marital expectations. This makes household chores and responsibilities even harder to fix – thus a woman from a traditional culture may be expected to cook for and clean up after her husband. But she may equally refuse since firstly she is not married to her partner and secondly this gender expectation is exactly what she is trying to avoid when she opts for cohabitation over marriage. bigger problems arise when one partner’s expectations of roles clash with another’s – thus if the female partner is a busy professional she would expect her boyfriend to pitch in with the cooking and dishes but he may think these as a woman’s job. Even when you and your partner have been brought up according to same cultural values, there may be differences - you may like doing chores together while your spouse may prefer a neat division of roles in the household. Over time repeated fights about gender roles and domestic responsibilities may wreck your relationship. Thus before moving in, try and deal with how you both are going to get the housework done – ideally it is best to divide the chores equally but there are also other options like hiring help or investing in gadgets. Ultimately find a formula that suits you both best but be sure to get the issue of housework out of the way before you move in. Nothing wrecks the mood faster than resentment over dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen sink.

Come to an understanding on finances

The aspect of living together which would perhaps most sorely test a relationship is finding out who wears the pants. Ideally a relationship should be entirely equitable but in reality this seldom happens; usually the partner with a higher earning capacity or a stronger personality ends up having more control in a relationship. He/she decides which model of TV should be bought, what should be served for dinner and even perhaps where they should go for a weekend vacation. This is not really evident when two people are just dating since then it is not only about making good impressions but the fact that they living separately does not warrant taking of important decisions. It is only when you move in with your partner that you realize that there are power dynamics at play which are based on finances. So thrash out all money issues before you move in together. Discuss who is paying for what and whether expenses are to be divided equally or according to income of each partner. Are you going to have a joint account? What about insurance? Most importantly, make such discussions a part of your shared life. Check in with each other periodically to make sure you’re both on the same page financially. This will help you to set and save for common goals — say, a trip to Mexico, or buying a home — and create a sense of shared partnership.

Give each other space

After moving in together, it may tempting to spend every waking moment together. You are no longer separated by physical distance and you can barely keep your hands off each other. But remember to maintain each other privacy - for instance apart from taking the occasional romantic shower, keep all other bathroom activities private. Avoid disturbing your partner when he or she is working on a presentation and eavesdropping when he/she is talking on the phone. Most of all, make it a point to have quality time without each other. Now more than ever, it’s important to nurture your other relationships — including the relationship you have with yourself. Not only do those bonds give you a more well-rounded support system — one which you might need later on — but the time spent away will make your togetherness that much sweeter.

Keep the romance alive

Once the novelty of living together wears off, it can be tempting to fall back into familiar patterns of daily living. Thus you may want to spend your evenings ordering Chinese take-out and lounging about in your pajamas. Being too lazy to work at a relationship and taking one another for granted is one of the biggest mistakes married couple make - and you should avoid the trap. It is essential to the vitality of your relationship that you get out and explore the world together. See a band you love, catch a movie, work out together or party with friends. At home, express your appreciation for your lover by bringing her flowers, baking him a batch of cookies and putting on sexy lingerie. Keeping your romance alive while under one roof will give you the best of both worlds –dating and marriage – which is what living together is finally about.