This is a sponsored guest post.
For any couple, the decision to move in together isn’t one to be taken lightly. In most cases, it’s seen as the first step toward a lifetime commitment; if the relationship goes south, it’s not simply a matter of collecting a few items from the other person’s place and moving on with your life. Cohabitation requires meshing everything from your personal belongings to your finances to your friends.
That’s why relationship experts (and just about everyone else, from your mom and your best friend to financial gurus and interior designers) recommend asking important questions before you decide to shack up. Sure, you want to make sure that your partner is financially solvent and you won’t spend every evening hiding from relentless bill collectors, but there are other important issues you want to clarify before you lug home boxes and packing tape. The answers might not be deal breakers (depending on how strongly you feel about the toilet paper position) but knowing what to expect ahead of time will prevent unpleasant surprises and probably more than a few arguments.
What Are Your Bathroom Habits?
Depending on how far you are into your relationship, how you each handle your bathroom routine can be a major eye-opener. Suddenly discovering that your boyfriend has a stash of hair products that rivals any salon, or that your girlfriend leaves toenail clippings everywhere can be shocking or annoying. Before signing a lease together, talk about your bathroom habits and establish some ground rules. If you’re lucky enough to have a double vanity (like those found here) determine who will use which side and how to handle the middle ground, i.e., will any items like toothpaste and hand soap be shared? If space is a premium, determine how things will be stored and who gets which space. You might also want to discuss the eternal conundrums such as the toilet paper over-under debate, toothpaste squeezing techniques and toilet seats to prevent stupid arguments later.
Who Else Has a Key to the Place?
You roll out of bed on a weekend morning to find your boyfriend’s mother cleaning the kitchen. Or perhaps your romantic evening at home is interrupted by your girlfriend’s best friend looking for a place to crash yet again. Before moving in together, be upfront about who comes in and out of the place without prior arrangement and whether or not that needs to stop.
What Is Your Decorating Style?
Her style is shabby chic. His can best be described as “early frat house.” While you are probably aware of your partner’s decorating style before you move in, actually merging your possessions can be a rude awakening, especially if she thinks that the ugly armchair is going on the sidewalk and he wants to limit the number of throw pillows to two. Or maybe you want your collection of new-in-the-box “Star Wars” action figures to be honored on the living room bookshelf, but she wants those shelves for her snow globe collection. Discussing these issues ahead of time — and compromising — will go a long way to preventing hurt feelings and argument.
How Will We Get “Alone Time?”
Moving in together does not mean spending every waking moment in each other’s company. For a healthy relationship, you need some time apart spent with others or engaging in your own hobbies. Establish expectations before moving in — perhaps you agree on one night a week to go out with friends separately, or that Sunday afternoon football games are sacred. You’ll not only maintain your own identity, but also have something to talk about when you’re together.
What Are Your Household “Rules?”
Maybe you want to put your feet up on the furniture, but you always use a coaster. Maybe he cringes when people wear shoes in the house. Either way, when there’s a mismatch, it’s bound to create resentment, annoyance and eventually, start a fight. Compromise on the little things, such as agreeing to use coasters and whether or not you’re going to allow napping on the sofa, and create greater harmony in your relationship. If you can’t agree to only burn scented candles when your significant other isn’t home, how will ever agree on bigger issues down the road, such as marriage and kids?
Of course, in some cases, certain issues don’t come up until after you’ve unpacked the boxes and settled into life together. When they inevitably arise, remember that communication and compromise set the foundation for any happy relationship, and you’ll be able to work through just about anything.
About the Author: Much to her mother’s horror, Harper Simmons moved in with her would-be husband two years before they tied the knot. Despite the dire warnings that arguments over toothpaste and toilet seats would torpedo their relationship, Harper and her husband have now been happily married for 17 years.