Champagne breakfast in bed – or incriminations over dinner? Mutual back massages or hours of bickering over the washing up? How will cohabitation look for you?
Once you’ve made up your minds that living together is really for you, it’s time to find somewhere to live - a task that demands much thought and attention. While it is wonderful to feel that the two of you can look forward to life together as a couple, the practicalities of the accommodation are a more pressing matter. If you find your new joint home dark and depressing, it could put pressure on the relationship, so it’s worth spending some time to find somewhere that suits both of you (as well as your budget).
The nesting instinct
Now, let’s suppose that your own home – where you’ve been living for years - is big enough for two and would make an ideal joint home. So, your new other half moves in with you. The two of you need to decide in advance, though, what changes might need to be made to the living space, otherwise it could seem that you are simply ‘hosting’ your partner, which could create the wrong atmosphere. You both need to play a part in shaping your life, and your home is part of that. In a new relationship it can even be a good idea to start from scratch with a complete renovation, practicalities and finances permitting.
Making the move
Any time you move into a new home, it’s a big event, especially when two single people are starting to make a life together. To mark the transition, make you arrival in your new home into an event by ask some friends over for a little celebration. Later, of course, comes the official housewarming.
A matter of taste
Do you remember the scene from When Harry Met Sally with the discussion about the wagon-wheel coffee table? If you’re sharing your living space with a partner, you also need to share your taste. This is where tolerance and compromise start coming into play, even if you don’t like the same kind of design. If you’ve got the luxury of space, each of you could set up a room completely in your own taste, but the other rooms need to be a joint effort. If you’ve got something along the lines of the famous wagon-wheel coffee table, maybe you should think about a car boot sale or eBay. And perhaps the cash you make from it could go towards something you really want.
Running your life
Life together can’t be a string of special occasions, so you need to find a way of making everyday life work as smoothly as possible. The washing-up doesn’t do itself and dust doesn’t disappear of its own accord, so the two of you need to discuss how best to tackle these routine items. If you make things clear from the beginning, there is less chance of conflict later on. It’s not a matter of drawing up a timetable, but of basic planning: whose responsibility it is to buy what, when the cleaning needs to be done, who’s doing the cooking … And if you’re both very busy with work (or just enjoy some extra free time), then (again, budgets permitting) paying someone to help with the housework can do wonders.
What’s mine is yours?
When you are living full time with someone, it is important to have an appreciation of each other’s need for personal space. One of you might want to share everything all the time, while the other might need to be able to ‘get away’ occasionally. Some people even prefer to have separate bedrooms. It is up to you to determine what works best for each of you and both of you. The same principles apply to your friends and social life. It is actually a good idea for each of you to have some friends of your own with whom you meet up at least every now and then.
Getting it in writing
When, full of the joys of love, you move in together, it’s hard to imagine that you might ever want to split up, but - though there’s never a good time to talk about it – there is always the possibility that this might happen. To avoid unnecessary tensions and difficulties at some possible point in the future, it’s worth formalising matters such as joint rental contracts and you should keep receipts for any major joint purchases. Hopefully, the two of you will remain a happy couple for a very long time, and you can cheer yourself up in the knowledge that there are financial advantages to living as a couple, since you won’t be doubling up on some essential expenditure such as household insurance … But most important is your personal investment in your future together.