Cautious couples approach moving-in together as if they were leasing the car of their dreams, fully intending to opt-out if things get “impractical” rather than rolling through the years with a lemon. Those who are lucky enough to know they’ve found their soulmate, use their time living together as a transitional and planning phase before making it official. Both approaches work, but no one said navigating the limbo between dating and mating for life would be easy. In order to be successful living with someone, it’s important to keep your relationship tuned to achieve perfect harmony.
For starters, begin your cohabitating career off slowly. Listen to suggestions, learn which roles you’ll play in the division of labor and get ready to witness your lover’s idiosyncratic routines. If your significant other can’t sleep without their self-prescribed recommended daily allowance of cookies, then griping about crumbs or cavities will quickly transfer you from the nice to the naughty list. Instead, purchase an artisan, albeit less brittle, dessert as a gift or be the first person to effectively bake with fluoride. Appreciating each other’s silly quirks is part and parcel of living a life in unison.
It’s also important to carve out your own niches. If the love of your life simply must have the toilet seat down, regardless of you needing it up, then just concede because it’s one of their sacred spaces. At the same time, when your companion ventures into your man cave and starts organizing your DVDs alphabetically when you want them sorted by martial arts style; respectfully stand your ground.
“Many couples tend to forget that they’re still living together during regular business hours, so don’t forget to call or text an “OMG” or a “LOL” every once in a while throughout the work day.”
Next, never stop practicing the love song that got you together in the first place. Falling into some routines is inevitable, but that isn’t an invitation to take your other half for granted. You’re not roommates so don’t forget to be a little spontaneous and a lot passionate. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day or Christmas to present a card with some gentle words From: you, To: someone special. Even if it’s not your usual chore, it’s OK to wash dishes without expecting praise or the favor returned. Doing so will start a cycle of kindness where each of you will try to out-do the other’s thoughtful gestures.
Throughout all this, keep your composure. Every moment of anger is temporary, but the repercussions may be permanent. You mistook a shared interest in Korean BBQ as a green light to start pickling your own garlic and chili-marinated kimchi in the freshly renovated kitchen and you expect to get away with it??? Leave Sun Tzu’s Art Of War on the shelf. You may be in for an earful, but getting defensive, obnoxious or downright rude will chop blocks out of the home you’ve been building one brick at a time.
What many couples tend to forget is that they’re still living together between the regular business hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., so don’t forget to call or text an “OMG” or a “LOL” every once in a while throughout the work day. It may seem silly and redundant at first, but it’s less about checking in and more about letting your sweetheart know you’re thinking about them and can’t wait to get home. You’re already sharing costs and meals, so why not share a moment between the two of you and help each other make it through the day.
Much like a good musical ear can be trained by rehearsing, a good relationship can be strengthened by repeated acts of kindness. Cohabitating is more than having someone to nurse you back to health when you’re sick or hand you the towel you forgot in the linen closet, it’s an audition for someone you’d love to have join your band. Show compassion, especially when stressed; try to compromise, even if it makes you uncomfortable; and always remember that communication is key. Just make sure you’re understanding each other.