Moving in together with your partner for the first time can be an exciting prospect. You are hopefully looking forward to spending more time together, creating a nice home together and it can potentially be a symbol of your relationship progressing and a strong sign of commitment. However, it can also be a daunting prospect for various reasons.
In today’s post, we look at some of the most common challenges that can arise when first moving in together with a partner, while providing some tips on how to handle these. Continue reading and you’ll find a few infographics we have prepared that we hope you’ll find helpful!
Moving in Together: The Fight vs The Constructive Talk Scenario
What are the Most Common Challenges of Moving in Together?
There may be things that you are both required to adjust to when moving in together for the first time e.g. being more conscientious of the other person with regards to housework and dinner plans as well as other plans (work, socialising, hobbies). If you had been living with others it may be a difficult adjustment to no longer live with them, although it may also be a welcomed change!
It may be that you are looking forward to your lives integrating more, however you may also, or instead, be concerned that some of your autonomy may reduce.
Understanding your Differences
No two people are the same. You will likely find that there are differences with regards to how you like things to be done (e.g. housework, home improvements) or you generally hold different opinions on some things. You may have certain habits that may be unacceptable to the other person. By expressing a difference of opinion, for some, this may be interpreted as criticism (which may be an accurate or inaccurate interpretation!) which can lead to clashes or tension in the relationship. There may be a difference between you with regards to your expectations on how much time you spend together versus apart which can prove difficult.
Spending Less Quality Time
When some people move in together quality time/date nights may dwindle. This is perhaps not prioritised as much as before because you see each other more by living together. Coupled with navigating housework, house admin and food shopping (perhaps which are new additions to your relationships that were not present before you moved in together), this may lead to interactions being dominated by conversations around such chores. This can contribute to the relationship being less fun compared to before you moved in together.
Difficulties Being on Top Form
By spending lots more time together when living together it can be difficult to be on your top form mood wise all the time. This is compared to before you lived together where you may have seen each other for shorter periods of time and it was easier to be on good form during the time you spent together.
It is common for there to be differences with regards to how much you each earn and like to spend. One person may be more frivolous than the other on household items and food shopping which can potentially lead to clashes.
Although many people may be happy with the level of commitment that moving in together represents, others may be ambivalent. Although they may care for their partner and a part of them wants to move in with them, there may be another part of them that is unsure. Perhaps they do not feel quite ready to “settle down” or adjust their lives to living together and may have felt pressurised to move in together by their partner, family or societal pressures. This can manifest itself in unhelpful ways e.g. being frustrated about small things on a regular basis which can create distance between the two of you.
The potential challenges outlined above may indeed seem daunting but rest assured that these are quite common and many people can still make it work! Additionally, there are various ways in which you can prevent and address such challenges in order for you to live together in harmony and maintain a healthy relationship.
Tips to Manage the Challenges of Moving in Together with Your Partner
Although the challenges mentioned are a real possibility, everything’s not lost! There are many things we can do to improve the frictions that can arise in a relationship once we start sharing a living space.
As we often hear, communication is key! If things are bothering either of you do not let it fester. If you do, things can escalate. Try to tackle any issues early on. When addressing issues, choose a good time to do so, for example, when things are calm around you. Ensure you speak in a respectful way i.e. keep your voice calm, actively listen to the other person’s perspective, focus on the behaviour you are not happy with rather than blaming or labeling (e.g. “When you do not clean away your clothes it makes me feel frustrated as I have to pick them up” versus “You’re so lazy”). Don’t be afraid to express some vulnerability, this can help the other person better understand what is going on for you (e.g. “When you made yourself dinner and not me it made me think you don’t care about me which upset me”).
Learn to Compromise
When there are differences of opinions or ways of doing things keep in mind that neither of you are necessarily right or wrong. Your opinions and behavioural patterns have been shaped by your own, different, experiences. Acknowledging this can hopefully help you to better empathise with the other. At times it can be helpful to compromise (or let small things completely slide!), it is good to ask yourself if it really matters and is it perhaps better to compromise in order to preserve the relationship. Whereas at other times, if you hold a very strong belief, it is fine to stand your ground a little more.
You cannot completely avoid clashes here and there when living together. It can be helpful to consider what led to the clash and how you dealt with it. If you did not handle the situation in the best way it is important to take responsibility for this and apologise otherwise if you are both blaming of the other and neither take responsibility then you will be at logger heads which can prevent clashes being resolved.
Consider what qualities you think are important to bring into your relationship (e.g. caring, respectful, fun). Every now and then reflect upon the degree to which you’re working towards these values. If emotions are high, ask yourself, what do I have the urge to do? If you have the urge to be short and snappy with your partner, ask yourself, is this in line with how I want to be in this relationship?
Balance Time Together and Apart
It can be healthy in a relationship to spend quality time together as well as for you each to have a degree of independence. Quality time together is of course important in order to enjoy each other’s company and to strengthen the relationship.
Humans are too often on autopilot mode. This can be helpful at times but at other times, if emotions are high, we have unhelpful thoughts and behavioural patterns, autopilot mode is not so helpful! When you notice yourself struggling e.g. emotions are heightened, you’re feeling agitated, STOP and REFLECT. Ask yourself, what is going on for me right now? What am I responding to? What thoughts are running through my mind? Where are these thoughts coming from (e.g. in response to something that’s just happened in the here and now, past experiences that have triggered me, societal pressures)? How am I feeling emotionally and physically? What did I do or what do I have the urge to do? What next steps will lead me towards or away from my values? What will help this situation right now? This is particularly important if we are struggling with an aspect of our lives (whether our relationship or wider issues such as work stressors) and this subconsciously manifests itself in unhelpful ways, such as, taking our stress out on our partner over something unrelated.
Provide Praise and Show Appreciation
It can be easy to fall into a pattern where we provide little praise or appreciation for our partner. Instead, they may hear us mainly expressing our discontent over various things they have done. Humans thrive on praise rather than criticism. Ensure that you express praise and your appreciation of your partner where they have perhaps done something kind, helped you with something, had a hard day at work.
Being on the Same Page
If you feel it is necessary, it can be helpful to have an open conversation with regards to your relationship and your thoughts and feelings about it. Do you both see it going in the same direction? Avoid burying your heads in the sand!
Overcome Your Relationship Issues Starting Today!
Moving in together for the first time can be an exciting, yet at times challenging time. Hopefully, this article helped you learn more about this important step many of us will take, and get you started on tackling some of the potential issues.
At times it can be challenging to work on these issues on your own. Seeing a therapist on an individual basis or as a couple can provide support for you to explore and navigate challenges you face, both as an individual and as a couple. At Therapy Central we have therapists who have excellent experience supporting people work through relationship difficulties, discover more about Relationship Counselling.