Meet In The Middle: Moving In With Your Partner

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Annie Gurton

Couples Counsellor

So, you’ve spent the last few months getting closer and you know you really, really like each other. Things are very romantic, and you both just know that this relationship is going to last. There is nothing stopping you from moving in together – except, perhaps, that you don’t want the next step to be splitting up. Ensuring that the relationship grows and you don’t end up hating each other is a fine art, which starts with a reality check.

Because keeping a cool head when a relationship is in the first heady Romantic Phase is hard. You simply know in your bones that this is the one for you, and are certain that your love is enough to weather any possible troubles or storms. Or is it?

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By approaching the move in together in a calm and rational way, any potential problems can be avoided. You already know that you share some fundamental values and beliefs (if you don’t, you need to think carefully whether this really is the right person for you – lack of shared beliefs and values can be an early deal-breaker). Now you have to sit down and work out some details.

1. Finances

You need to have a detailed discussion, typically spread over several days or even a couple of weeks, when you discuss who will pay for what and how you divide the costs of your new arrangement. Agreeing how your finances are going to work is the first and most important discussion – unless it is carefully planned out, finances are likely to be the first area of dispute.

Apart from the obvious such as the rent and the utility bills, who will pay for the shopping? Will you have a new joint bank account, and will you both be able to use the credit cards? If one of you wants something that the other doesn’t, will you be happy to pay for half of it, or will you both be able to buy things separately without discussing it with the other.

It makes sense to write out a list of all possible financial scenarios, and how you will respond to them – in other words, you write out an agreement for how the finances (and other matters) will be handled.   For example, who will do the laundry, and the cleaning? Will you both be responsible, or take it in turns? And if you take turns, how frequently will these things be done?

By working out a financial and tasks agreement beforehand, you will save a huge amount of expectations, misunderstanding, disappointments and problems as time goes on.

2. What is your relationship status?

Be clear about what sort of relationship you will have when you move in together. Is it a trial marriage? If so, have a time-line in mind for a decision to formalise it into an engagement.

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Are you to refer to each other as ‘partners’ or ‘boy/girlfriend’. By living together you are ramping up the relationship, but be clear that you both understand the level that you are going to. You need to talk about this.

Will you both be free to have nights ‘off’ when you go out with your mates. Will you want to meet friends of the opposite sex? And what happens if one of you wants to do something that the other doesn’t. Will you both be happy about separate activities or do you need to do everything together.

3. Keep things romantic

Just because you are living together doesn’t mean that you can go back to your single habits. Remember that love can be broken and lost, and one quick way to do that is to behave like a slob and to forget to be romantic.

4. Don’t forget about your friends

It’s important that you stay in touch with your old friends if not everything about your old life. Things will change but it is unhealthy to devote yourself entirely to your partner to the exclusivity of everyone else. Have a regular night out without your partner once a week, or once a fortnight, but definitely at least once a month.

5. Have regular relationship meetings

Set aside an hour a week to go through any issues or frustrations in a calm way, before they become a point of conflict and argument. Look at your diaries for the coming week, and double check any joint plans, and your activities alone.

6. Be realistic

Be realistic and be prepared for the relationship to end and for you to be on your own again. You might break up. Of course right now that seems unlikely, and even thinking it may seem to cast a superstitious pall over the idea of ‘happy ever after’, but not to have an exit plan does not help cement you together. In fact, knowing that you will be alright if the relationship ends will help you to stay together more than not having a plan, and becoming totally locked together before you are really ready.

Living together requires a balance of independence and interdependence. You are separate people, but you will also be setting up a co-joined life. In a healthy relationship there should be respect and acknowledgement that the other is not you, you will have different tastes and you need to be free to do your own thing as well as doing things as a couple.

For more information and to get in touch with Annie, head to www.anniegurton.com

Feature image via pinterest

 

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