The Next Big Step

By Alice Inoue Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

Moving in together can be a test of a couple’s relationship. Ease the transition by using these tips to get moving in the right direction

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: My boyfriend and I are planning to look for a place and move in together next month, and I’m a bit apprehensive about it. We each have maintained our individual living spaces for the past 10 years (we are both in our 50s) and will be giving them up to create a new beginning. Do you have any advice for us?

Several considerations are involved when transitioning from living alone to sharing a space. Even if you have spent every waking hour together before cohabiting, once you do cohabit, you will find that you each have some habit or quirk you knew nothing about, which can test your relationship to its core. Does he really think it’s OK to leave wet towels in the hamper all week? Oh my, he leaves the top off the toothpaste!

Moving in together is a big step and can be challenging, but with just a little planning it can be a smooth transition with no surprises. Save some time and energy on unnecessary arguments by getting clarity on the following:

1. Determine your budget. Discuss and share a realistic view of what you each will contribute to the monthly expenses, then search only for places that fall within your budget. Where a disparity in income exists, which is often the case, balance things out in advance and list the estimated monthly expenses. Afterward, decide what expenses you will split and what expenses you will trade off.

For example, maybe one of you will buy groceries and the other will take care of the laundry. Mapping out a plan that feels fair to both of you before you move in together can save a lot of frustration later on. You may still run into some minor issues after you move in together, but they will be easier to handle as you readjust and regroup.

2. Discuss necessities. You each should clarify your priorities and use them as a guide-post so you both get what is truly important to you in your space. Search for places with these priorities in mind. It may be hard to budge on things that are really important to you, but be open to compromise, especially on the things that are less important.

3. Determine your joint style. One of the hardest things is to find your joint style.

It’s easy to more readily accept the other’s decor and style when you are living apart, but your new home has to reflect both of your styles. Otherwise, energetically, you won’t be happy. If representing both of your styles seems initially impossible, just keep at it because a solution is there if you work in the true spirit of collaboration. A trip to a furniture store or jointly thumbing through magazines can give you ideas.

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Keep it clutter free

The only way to keep your new place clutter free is to start with that intent. When we move, we often carry from home to home things that we have forgotten about that were hidden in storage spaces and boxes. Take the time to scale down before you move in together. One of the most challenging situations is when one partner doesn’t believe his or her stuff is part of the problem.

Commit to scale back

In my opinion, clearing your own clutter before you even set foot in your new space is imperative. If you don’t love it, need it or use it on a regular basis, it should not go into your new home. If you are sentimental, get a friend who is not emotionally connected to your things to help you be objective about what goes to the new place and what gets donated or discarded. Truly start fresh.

In the case where you have two of the same item and you need only one, like a TV or a bed, choose the newest, or the one still under warranty, and sell or donate the other. Do not rent a storage space for these items just because it seems like a waste to get rid of them. Some storage spaces can cost about $150 a month. In a few years, when you finally realize you really didn’t need those things, you’ll already be $4,000 out of pocket. You are better off listing these items on eBay now and getting some money to use toward the move or donating them and taking the deduction.

Disagreements are natural

If it is tough to agree on where things go or how to merge styles, it is worth giving up a few nice dinners out to hire a professional to guide you through different options that could work for you both.

Though it may be a bit bumpy at first, preplanning and using the tips provided above will help you both enter a much better space in order to take your relationship to a deeper level.

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, an educational establishment at Gentry Pacific Center on Nimitz Highway. Learn things about life that were never taught in school about how to be happy. Happiness U offers classes such as Feng Shui 101, Clutter Clearing Plan 101, Positive Mindset 101, Happiness 101 and more. Visit www.YourHappinessU.com for more information.