For many couples, the transition of moving in together can a stressful phase of a relationship. Although this kind of move can be an exciting time, there are a couple of things that seem to be particularly tricky to navigate. Here are some common topics for discussions and questions that couples may have forgotten to consider:
Personal boundaries: Do you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert, or a combination? Do you prefer to spend free time with your partner/roommate or do you need time alone? Do you prefer sleeping on a certain side of the bed? How do you like to manage your meals (eating alone vs. together; cooking together vs. alone, eating in vs. ordering takeout, etc.)? There are some quirks about sharing intimate, personal space with another person that you may not realize you have. Instead of assuming your partner already knows these things about you, help them to understand why you do things the way you do. This discussion can open up conversations about how you learned to live independently and what your needs will be when you start to share the space with your loved one.
Cleaning and living habits: Do you care about how the dishwasher gets stacked? Does it matter to you to have shirts and pants folded* a certain way? Is there a specific place you like to keep toiletries? Do you put the toilet paper on the holder so it rolls out over or under? These are questions that may seem trivial, but in the heat of the moment can spark larger conflicts. Make sure you discuss these issues (plus all the other fun ones you can think of) prior to the move so there are less surprises. The more conversations you have, the better chance you have at compromising and preventing conflict.
*The KonMari method is popular for a reason!!!
Quality time: It’s an easy trap to fall into when you start living with your partner to think, “Obviously, we’re around each other all the time so we spend plenty of time together.” That “together” time is not always “quality” time. When the main topic of conversation is whether or not you took the trash out, that is not an intimate conversation. Take time to plan dates. Talk about how much time you would like to spend together on a weekly basis and actually build that into your schedules. Don’t assume that sharing space is the same as sharing an emotional connection. Try to prioritize your relationship the way you prioritized it when you weren’t living together. Do the sweet things for each other to remind your partner how much you still like them!
Social time: On the flip side of the last topic, sometimes couples will find themselves isolated in their new shared home. When you’re caught up in the excitement of sharing space with your partner, it can be a balancing act to schedule time with friends and family, too. Make sure you schedule time with your other loved ones occasionally. Talk to each other about how much time and energy should be devoted to friends and family. Talk about the boundaries if there is an expectation for both of you to attend certain social gatherings. Take time to discuss the needs for individual hobbies and interests outside of shared hobbies and interests. Think about how you can both have your social needs met while still making time for each other and for taking care of your shared space.
Finances: How are you dividing household expenses? Whose bank account will the rent come out of? Who will be responsible for buying groceries? Would you both be willing to set a budget? How often will you check in with each other about the budget and general financial status? What are both of your spending/saving habits? Would you be willing to talk to a professional for guidance on financial planning? Finances are the #1 conflict for couples, and it is often a taboo topic of conversation. It can be difficult to navigate the conversation if finances are uncomfortable for you to discuss. There are many available resources for financial guidance, and there are many professionals out there waiting to help you if needed!
Most couples will move multiple times together. Communication about these topics could prevent conflict if the boundaries and expectations are clear throughout the moving process. Consider revisiting this list of topics every time there is a living situation transition to make sure that the change goes as smoothly as possible.
An Thai, MS, Resident in Marriage & Family Therapy, provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our Sterling, VA office and virtually to clients located in the State of Virginia. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with An!