We’ve all seen those Hollywood story lines: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl decide to move in together.
On the TV or big screen they showcase the romance, the excitement and the happiness of this life change between two people who love each other. The sharing of wardrobe space, two toothbrushes happily nestled beside each other, the sun seemingly brighter and the birdsong louder and sweeter than ever.
But, what happens when the initial excitement and feeling of adventure wears off?
What happens once she’s found he’s left the lid off the toothpaste for the 17th time and he’s fished yet more of her hair out of the plug hole? Then what?
You see, those glitzy TV bods don’t show us any of this stuff. The land of showbiz negates to tell us what happens to the prince and princess after they find their happily ever after. Did you ever see Snow White picking up dirty socks from the floor? No. Did you ever see Prince Charming scream with pain as he cut himself shaving following Cinderella’s use of his razor to shave her legs? No. Not you did not.
There’s two lessons to be learnt here:
1) Hollywood lies to us
2) Cohabitation isn’t all plain sailing. No siree bob.
Earlier this year I moved in with my boyfriend. We had planned to save up and buy a house together, but – as is often the way – life decided to stick a ruddy great spanner in the works and we found ourselves in a situation where I had to move into his house.
I’m not going to lie, the first few weeks were tough. He found it difficult to have a girl (and her cats) living in what had been his bachelor pad for five years, and I was finding it hard to make transition from ‘guest’ to ‘you-can-do-half-the-housework-now’. Living in somebody else’s space is hard and, it seems, having somebody else living in your space is just as trying.
So, how do you get past the “OHMYGODYOUAREREALLYANNOYINGME” phase that comes with cohabitation after the aww-factor of the toilet roll being hung the wrong way round passes by? How do you deal with starting a life together in a home that belongs to only one of you?
Here are my top tips for saving your relationship (and your sanity) during this transitional time:
It’s a cliché, yes, and it makes me sound like your mum, I know, but it’s also really true. Discuss any concerns, worries or annoyances (but maybe leave out the “OHMYGODYOUAREREALLYANNOYINGME” part). Bottling things up only makes them worse and clearing the air can make all the difference.
Share the chores
When you start living together, it’s important you find a balance. For instance, if you hate ironing, perhaps your partner will be willing to trade one of their hated tasks in exchange for it? It’s all about team work and, above all else, making sure you share the load – neither of you are work horses!
Make it a shared home
The transition from being a guest to actually living together was the hardest thing for me. I felt very acutely that I was living in his space and, as a result, my identity was missing. But, with the addition of a few little bits and pieces in each room, I made it feel like it was my space too – it doesn’t have to be a total overhaul, but a few little bits here and there can make all the difference. Think of it as the human form of marking your territory (because let’s admit it, a few ornaments here and there is much more preferable than weeing in the corner of each room).
Once you live together it can be easy to let spending quality time together slip by the wayside. Make time for each other, ask how each other’s day has been and try to have a ‘date night’ at least once a month, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk then snuggling up to watch a film at home. It’s important to have fun together and not lose sight of the ‘us’ in the midst of all the day-to-day mundane household activities.
It’s the little things
When you have a house to run or are saving up to buy somewhere between you, money is going to be tight, so, understandably, grand romantic gestures can go out the window. But there’s still plenty you can do to let the other person know you care – a cup of tea brought to them in bed, a note left on the bathroom mirror, or a text during the day to let them know you’re thinking about them will remind them how much they mean to you, even if you did moan at them the day before about not doing the washing up!
Above all else, try to remember what it is about that person that made you fall for them in the first place. All of us have the ability in us to be really, really annoying and you may sometimes think your partner is an idiot, but remember; they’re your idiot.
Do you have any tips or questions about the early days of cohabitation?
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