As you all read in my post, Making the Decision to Move in Together, my boyfriend and I decided to move in together! It did happen really fast; even though it was longer than either of us ever waited in our previous relationships. We both like to jump right into things! But I think we both learned from those experiences, and we realized that regardless of how quickly (or slowly!) you move in together, it’s not going to work without having some serious adult conversations.
My boyfriend and I had numerous adult conversations before making the final decision to move in together. Although every relationship is different, if you are considering moving in with a significant other, there are some things that you need to talk about first.
Since Partners in Fire is primarily a finance blog, you all knew I was going to mention discussing finances prior to living together. There is no right or wrong way to mix finances and living expenses, every situation is different and every relationship is different. You may decide on a 50/50 split of everything. Or you may decide that you will split things based on percentages of income. You may even decide to have one person stay home and care for the house/kids while the other works (though I would always caution someone who isn’t working to have a back up plan). The point is, your relationship is your own, and whatever works for you as a couple is great! But what doesn’t work is not discussing it.
Another financial topic that needs to be discussed is what will happen if one of you faces a set-back. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. People get sick, people lose their jobs, parents need help. Having a plan for how to weather these unexpected events will help ensure that your relationship remains strong in the face of adversity.
Every relationship is different, and everyone will have different expectations, but a common complaint I hear among women is that their boyfriend/husband doesn’t help around the house unless they are specifically told to. I’ve had this problem with boyfriends in the past as well. I actually had the idea for this post because of this very situation!
My sister called me and told me that she and her boyfriend got into a fight because he wasn’t helping her around the house. His argument was that she should just tell him what she needed help with, and he’d do it. But the thing is, she shouldn’t be responsible for telling him what needs to be done. He doesn’t need her to tell him that the dishwasher needs to be ran; he should just run the dishwasher! Why should she be responsible for managing all of the household chores when they share the house?
I think it’s completely unfair to make one person in charge of knowing what needs to be done at all times and making sure it gets done. We are both adults, we can both be responsible for managing our home. My sister was super impressed with this idea; she (and probably tons of other people!) had never even considered it that way before! She decided that she needed to have this very same conversation with her boyfriend, even though they were already living together. Better late than never though!
I had this talk with my boyfriend before we ever even moved in together (and before listening to my sister’s struggles!). I told him that the biggest expectation I had was that he would take care of things without needing to be told. He lives here too, so he can tell when the dishes need to be put away, or when the dogs need to be fed. I don’t need to be in charge of that, and he doesn’t either. We are both smart enough to figure out when something needs to be done.
This wasn’t a one-sided conversation by any means! My boyfriend had expectations too, and those needed to be addressed as well. Relationships can’t be one sided. It’s not just about what I want, it’s also about what he wants and what we need as a couple.
My boyfriend’s main expectation was that I tell him if I’m upset about something. I have always had a hard time vocalizing my feelings, so this is a hard thing for me. I try, but usually he has to prod me until I spill. He’s amazing at reading me and knowing if I’m mad though (so unfair!), which makes it easier to tell him (because I can’t hide it).
Although I struggle with it, I think his expectation is very fair. We can’t resolve our issues if we don’t talk about them. That’s what this entire blog post is about! But for some reason, it’s way easier for me to talk about something before it’s a problem. I guess that’s because there are no emotions involved at that point? Either way, I know it is something that I need to work on, and I’m trying.
Most blogs I’ve read about moving in together suggest having a discussion about chores. However, I don’t think it’s entirely necessary. I think that the discussion we had about us both being responsible for managing the house is sufficient. We don’t need to outline who does the dishes or laundry or vacuuming. All we both need to know is that it’s a shared house that we are both responsible for.
However, some couples do need to have a structured list of who does what, and that’s perfectly fine! If that works better for your relationship, then go for it.
It’s not difficult to merge differing lifestyles if you are both willing to compromise. But it’s important to talk about what your merged life will look like before you move in together. Does one of you prefer to go out all the time while the other is more of a Netflix person? Is one of you an introvert while the other is an extrovert? Do you have a spender verses saver situation going on? None of these differences are inherently bad or insurmountable. However, discussing these differences prior to moving in together will save a lot of angst and drama in the future.
The day to day lifestyle stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. You also need to discuss the future, and where you see yourselves and your relationship heading. You would think that before taking a big step and moving in together, most couples would discuss their life goals. Do both partners want to get married? Have children? Do you both want to retire early? Is one person a homebody while the other wants to travel the world? Where do you want to live? These (and countless others) are huge topics that can really put a damper on a relationship. However, even if you aren’t on the same page about any of these topics, that doesn’t mean the relationship has to end. Relationships are about compromise, and there may be ways to compromise on all of these issues that works for you. But you can’t compromise on any of these things if you don’t talk about them.
Communication is absolutely key in a relationship. There are probably issues specific to your relationship that you need to talk about that I wouldn’t even have considered. The important thing is that you need to have these adult conversations, and you need to revisit important issues regularly. If you can’t communicate with your partner prior to moving in with them, maybe you should rethink moving in together.
A Happy Home
I know these adult conversations can be difficult, and I know they won’t prevent every argument and disagreement. However, having these conversations will give your relationship a baseline and will prevent a lot of stress and discontentment. The point of moving in together is to have a happy, joyful, harmonious relationship. It’s to enjoy each other’s company and have a partner to make life more pleasurable for both of you. Having these conversations upfront will really help ensure that your shared home is a happy one.