Helping couples have a smooth transition when living together
When two people decide that they are going to live together and share all of the up’s and down’s of life together. There should be a manual!
The thing is that as individuals, people primarily think first about him or themselves. Decisions such as what’s for dinner? Or how early/late to arrive home. Are no longer solely dependent on one individual. By living together and sharing your life journey, you are also letting go of your one-sided mindset.
A manual for first-time couple’s living together is vital to the longevity of the relationship and your nerves.
1. Do NOT make important decisions alone. Also, do not be a smart ass when considering what “an important decision is”. Ask yourself “would my partner want to be included in the decision I am about to make?” If your answer is YES, do NOT make the decision alone.
2. “Take one for the team”. My coaches used to always say that statement. It wasn’t until I moved in with my wife and became married that I honestly understood its significance. There will be times in your relationship that you will simply have to suck it up and do what is best for the team and not you. A great tool to help couples improve in the area of teamwork is the couple’s journal. The couples journal gives couples a mixture of a workbook and a journal that support improve healthy communication, deep emotional connection, and intimacy. CLICK HERE to check out the journal.
3. Give each other space. Now that you are both under the same roof it is vital to understand that each of you should expect to become tired of each other. Tired of hearing him snore, tired of watching her floss, tired of seeing him leave the toilet seat up just after you got done telling me. You will each need your space and for self-care. Think of the space as a healthy way for you and your partner to revitalize your energy meters.
4. Do Not compare. Just because your friends or your parents seem to be living a certain lifestyle does not mean that what you are doing is wrong. Communicate with your partner so that you are both on the same page for what the future will bring. It is natural in the very beginning stages to feel jittery and nervous about the upcoming future. Just remember this time around “you both have each other to lean on”.
5. Learn to communicate over big and small topics. Communication is probably the number one factor that brings couples into my office. Talk with your partner about what you like and do not like. Allow the communication to be a median as you both find compromises. When communicating with your partner take time to explore what works and what doesn’t. For instance, if you find that most arguments take place late at night, try to make a rule from that to not have any conflict-like conversations later at night. Instead, save those types of conversations for a time during the day that has more structure to it.
Check out 7 Signs You and Your Wife Are Truly A Team: https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/7-signs-you-and-your-wife-are-truly-a-team/. Great read focused on improving communication in a relationship.
6. Discuss chores/tasks/responsibilities within the home. Create an excel sheet that has all of the chores in the home. One by one you and your partner can pick and choose in a fair and healthy manner. Post the sheet on your fridge or phone. When kids are in school, teachers give them a list of duties and responsibilities to complete each day. The list is on the board or somewhere in the classroom. Today, sit with your partner and create a list. Find a healthy way to allocate certain tasks to you and others to your partner. Follow through with it each day and evaluate progress at the end of the week.
7. Discuss money. The topic of money is critical to communicate with your partner as you both will be sharing bills and responsibilities within the home. Work to create value regardless if your job makes more/less. Value each other for who you are and how you each individually contribute to each other.
8. It’s okay that you and your partner are not able to see eye to eye. Marriages are difficult and if you can be strong enough to know that you need help – Go for it. Seek professional counseling to help mediate the process and get you two back on track. When you find that you are not seeing eye to eye, remember that you fell in love with your partner because of some of their differences. There are plenty of great quotes that highlight how opposites attract. The basic point to be made is that if you are not seeing eye to eye with your partner that is okay. Do not allow the issue to pull you away from your partner. Focus on respect and commitment. Learn to argue without criticism.
9. Conflict will be a part of your relationship and will certainly pop its head out during the transition into living together. As you grow to understand this also find space to create strategies. It’s important to remove the idea that you will never argue or disagree. At the end of the day, you are different than your partner. Consider the codeword exercise found here.
10. Practice slow down. Sometimes we can feel this rush to want to get to that date. Which is completely understandable as you are utterly in love. Yet, I urge you to slow down. To process. To enjoy the moment. Find space to truly connect with each other while blocking out all the outside noise. Go for long walks. Talk about your plans for the future. Share your ups and downs of the past. This simple strategy helps couples grow closer together.
11. Check in with each other. This means taking time to connect with your partner during the day. Use this time to explore what has taken place during the day, build love, and share words of support.
When couples are able to check in with each other space for growth is provided. What takes place is that the strategy of checking in, gives couples the opportunity (a) to engage in conversation (b) address challenges, and (c) find space to connect. Below are questions to explore when you are checking in:
- What are your fears connected to living together?
- Do you have any pet peeves that I should be aware of?
12. Align your life to nurture the relationship.
Take time to consider ways you can align your life together. Such as, connecting on values and building mutual goals that move your forward together. As you find your way in the same home, living together. Take time to highlight your values and goals. This simple process improves emotional connection and makes it easier to transition into a united life. One simple practice you can do is to identify one common value. Write it down. Discuss why the value is important and creative ways that you can actively engage in the value. Now as you live your life, ensure that you are bringing the selected value to life.
13. Engage in individual work. Each of us walks in our own journey whether we are single or in a relationship. The truth to this lies in acknowledging the location of the loudest voice. The loudest voice is that of our own. My friends, you have your story and I have mine. In our story, we have experienced ups and downs, that impact our thoughts, feelings, and overall mood. There is always room to engage in self-healing. If you are able to dedicate space to this, you’ll quickly see an improvement in yourself and in the relationship. Overall, this area of focus makes the process of moving in together smooth. A tool that can support self-healing is the mindfulness exploration journal found here.
14. Moving in together does not mean that you have to be each other’s everything. You do not have to be everything for each other. The concept to be everything is often challenging and not realistic. For instance, we cannot be our partner’s therapist, their foot doctor, and their spouse. As you find yourself in the same home, take time to talk about how you can show up for each other while also discussing the areas of life that you may not be able to show up for. For instance, if your partner is suffering from a migraine. You may not be the one prescribing them medication.
15. Engage in daily acts of service. These acts are also known as acts of kindness. For instance, bring each other coffee in the morning. This simply means doing something nice for the other person in the morning. It’s important to know that coffee is not the emphasis in this habit. The focus is the action of kindness. In your relationship take time to identify the small and big acts of kindness that you can engage in. If your relationship is a plant, then your act of kindness is the water that feeds it. A simple activity like this utilized right when you move in truly sets the tone for a beautiful and successful marriage.
Mr. Santos is a professional counselor, author, and blogger helping distant couples heal within their relationship.
Cover image by Nathan Walker
For couples who are planning to get married or who are already engaged and wish to build the foundation to a lasting life together.
– Take this course before you get married –
The course is for couples who are dating or engaged and seeking to create a partnership that is strong, healthy, and realistic for marriage.
- Actionable worksheets that you can apply right away.
- Questions aimed to help you connect to your partner.
- Hours of guided video lectures help you navigate key relationship areas.
- Space to give you and your partner the opportunity to engage in conversation and build strength in the relationship.
- Bonus #1 Free copy of the book, Couples Workbook: Making Your Relationship Work.
- Bonus #2 Extensive list of conversation topics aimed to help you build an emotional connection and get to know your partner in a more profound way.
- Bonus #3 Date ideas helping you remain consistent in your relationship.
CLICK HERE to check out the course