Sunday, 4 December 2016

Everything I've learned from moving in with my boyfriend

Phil and I have been living together for nearly two years now and I think we're pretty bloody good at it (we have just bought a house together!).

I always say living together is the best decision I've ever made (it really is! Honestly, this is super cheesy, but I get so excited at the end of every single day when I know I'm going home to Phil), but it's not always easy.

If you're planning to move in with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife etc. here's everything you need to know...
  • Don't move in too quickly
We'd been together 14 months when we moved in together and that was perfect for us. Every couple is different, but definitely don't rush into it - it's a big decision!
  • Consider renting
I've talked before about how I don't regret renting for a couple of years at all. We've been together 3 years and even I'm a bit freaked out about signing a mortgage for thirty years, so I'd definitely recommend giving renting a go first before you buy somewhere together.
  • It will be hard at first
One thing to know about Phil and I is we never argue. Ever. I reckon there's perhaps a cross word between us once a month, max. But when we first moved in together, we bickered, A LOT. And it made me really worried that moving in together was going to break us. But it didn't, because bickering is totally normal when you first move in. There's a lot of stress, a lot of change and they're just the nearest person to vent your frustrations at, so don't worry about it if it's not a cake of rainbows and smiles from day one.
  • Learn to pick your battles
This one is a big one! When you live together, there's nowhere to go if you have a row, and in a small space, everything is amplified, so pick your battles! If it's not a big deal, let it go. It's rarely worth it. Obviously if there's a big thing getting you down, speak up, but if it saying something could make it worse, keep schtum.
  • Talk to your partner!
You will need to be really, really honest with each other. About money, about your relationship, about your goals, about your plans for the future. You need to have all these conversations before you move in.
  • Learn to compromise
You will have to compromise. A lot. I'm an only child, so I find this harder than most! But you need to work together all the time, and you won't always get your way. Of course, compromise is a healthy part of any relationship, but it's amplified a hundred times when you share a space.
  • Be honest about money
I know, nobody likes to talk about money, but you don't want to move in with someone then find out in three months that they don't have the money you thought they did and can't afford rent this month. You have to be honest about money, as much as it sucks. How much you earn, how much you save per month, how much you can contribute to the house per month? Do you split everything evenly or does someone pay more? Does one of you need help saving every month? Do you owe any money to your family or do you have any loans? Get this out on the table right away, and get that awkward conversation done.
  • Set your expectations for your future
We all remember in Friends when Phoebe and Mike are about to move in together and then Mike tells Phoebe he never wants to get married? Moving in together is a big deal and if you haven't already had the conversation already, this is where you need to talk about your future and ensure you both have the same expectations about your relationship.
  • Share your responsibilities
When we first moved, and when I was living around the corner from work, I thought I would have sooooo much free time. Yeah, no. There's always so so so much to do at home! We have certain tasks that are Phil's, and certain tasks that are mine, and the rest we split, and this works for us (obviously it's not set in stone, but 90% of the time that's our system). I cook, Phil washes up. I clean the kitchen, Phil cleans the bathroom. I do the washing, Phil hangs it up. 
  • Consider a joint bank account
We still get faced with a lot of confusion when we tell people we have a joint bank account, but it's one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give. We both have our own bank accounts, and then we have a joint account that we put into every month by standing order. This account covers our rent, bills, food shopping, petrol, meals out... anything we need to split. It makes life so much easier that we don't have to owe each other money all the time and keep track, but we have our own bank accounts so we have freedom over our own money too. I really, really recommend getting a joint bank account before you move in.
  • Still date
When you move in together it's easy to stop making an effort and spend all your evenings on the couch. But it's important that you still make time to "date". Go out for dinner, go to the cinema, treat each other, surprise each other, make an effort. 
  • Spend time alone and spend time apart
I admit this can be really, really hard, especially if, like us, you don't have an awful lot of space, but make sure you get some time alone. When you live together you see each other pretty much every day, and you can find yourself only hanging out with each other and it can get intense. Make plans with your own friends, do your own thing, go out for a walk if you need some space. It can be easy to slide into arguments when you've just been cooped up together for too long.
  • Levels of clean (and tidy) will be very different
This might be something you need to talk about, or it might not. But just bear it in mind if you're more clean/tidy than your partner not to give them a hard time if they've "cleaned" the bathroom and you still think it looks disgusting, and if you are less concerned with being clean and tidy, respect your partner's needs and do that little bit extra. They'll appreciate it, promise. Also, you're probably way, way messier than you thought...
  • Drop "do this for me"
This is a stereotypical female thing, and I've started scolding myself if I ever say it. Don't ask your partner to do something around the house and finish it with, "for me". You both share that space and you both share responsibility. They are not cleaning the kitchen for you, they're doing it for both of you.
  • Appreciate the little things
The unexpected cups of tea in bed, them doing the washing up when it's your turn. There are lots of tiny, lovely moments when you live together that you need to remember and cherish. 
  • Be prepared to show your worst self
About a month after we moved in together, I spend over an hour making dinner for us both, getting more and more stressed out in the process. When I finally pulled it out of the oven... I dropped it. Then burst into tears and stormed into the bathroom and sobbed. About 15 minutes later, Phil popped his head around the door to see how I was and I just bawled my eyes out. Because everything was new and scary and there was so much responsibility and I was so overwhelmed and tired and I just wanted to make a nice dinner. He gave me a hug, let me cry and looked after me, and then told me he'd picked dinner up off the floor (#fivesecondrule). And now we laugh about what a ridiculous mess I am.
  • And see your partner's worst self
They're gonna be grumpy and snap at you one day after a long day, you'll have to look after them when they're ill, and at some point you'll cry on each other, and that's okay. 
  • Understand each other's body clocks and routines
I'm an early bird, which you probably already know if you're a regular reader of this blog! In the week my alarm usually goes off about 5.30am so I can do a workout or go for a run, but as a result I'm basically useless after 9pm. Phil, on the other hand, can stay up much later than I can. So I do my best to be as quiet as possible when I'm up early, and he does the same when he's coming to bed when I've already been fast asleep for two hours.
  • You're a team now
You have to work together. You have to make decisions together. You have to compromise. But being a team is also wonderful and lovely and brilliant because you're in it together.
  • "Yours" and "mine" becomes "ours"
Don't even try to remember whose DVDs are whose, or who paid for that bookshelf, or who ate the last of the cheese. Everything is shared now.
  • Make joint decisions about your space
One of my favourite things about our flat is how our personalities are all over it - even though it was a furnished flat. Phil's signed Liverpool shirt hangs on the wall beside photos of my family, my candles sit next to Phil's DVDs. We chose cushions that look like biscuits and we have a tissue box that looks like a Rubix cube. But it's not easy to choose things when you have a shared space (and I know this is even hard when one person moves into the other person's place), and although it's been easy enough with the flat, we're already struggling with combining our tastes for our house! This goes back to "learn to compromise", especially if your tastes are polarised. Pick things together and put in some time and effort to find the things you both like.
  • You will learn so much about yourself
And about each other. You'll learn what makes you tick, what drives you crazy, how tidy you like everywhere to be. In my case you'll learn that at some point along the way you turned into your mother and unexpected guests will cause a complete meltdown and panicked cushion-fluffing.
  • Try not to nag
I am terrible for this and I know it. I'm a bit of a nagger. Not just at home, but always. And when you're a huge control freak like me it's hard not to be a nag. This kind of goes back to pick your battles, but it also relates to trust. If you trust your partner, you shouldn't need to nag them so much (though easier said that done...).
  • It's serious
As I said before with setting your expectations, living together is a big deal. It's a serious step! You need to be certain you're with the right person before you do this, because it's a big deal to go from seeing someone once or twice a week to waking up beside them every single day. Don't rush into it because it's a big decision.
  • It will make you or break you
Moving in with Phil was hands down the best decision I've ever made. The last few years he's gone from being my boyfriend to being my absolute best friend. At least once a week we turn round to each other and say "isn't living together THE BEST?!" (oh shush, I know it's cheesy). We absolutely love spending so much time together, making decisions between us, choosing stuff for in our flat (and soon for our house!), we laugh every single day and we work together as a team. But it's very, very intense, and at times it can be hard work, and we get through it by being a great team, and loving and respecting each other. There's a lot of difficult decisions, difficult conversations and a lot of planning involved, and you have to compromise a lot. And you have to work hard every day at your relationship because it's easy to get lazy and take your partner for granted. But we also get through it by having our own lives, taking time apart, doing things with our friends and doing things for ourselves. And that's what works for us. I can't tell you whether it will or won't work for you, but if it works, it really is the best thing ever.

I'm hoping to get Phil to write a response to this post on everything he's learned from living with me, but I'm pretty sure he can summarise it with "HAIR GRIPS EVERYWHERE."

Want any more advice on living together without going crazy? Drop me a Tweet!

Charlotte x

No comments:

Post a Comment