Moving in together could be hazardous to your relationship
Entranced by true love's dazzling combination of hormones and ignorance, we may commit to sharing a home with our beloved before we've thought through the consequences. If you're considering moving in together, you may want to push your imagination some distance beyond the usual happily ever after. Love can conquer many a romantic hiccup that arises after a move-in, but only if you ta e a few ey precautions.
Step 1: Pledge allegiance to red flags
!o, I'm not suggesting you turn communist. "y red flags I mean the uneasy feeling that there's something fundamentally wrong with your relationship. I now several clients who've moved in with partners in order to silence #ust such hunches. $wo, %&, '& years later, as I'm helping them process the inevitable brea up, I as , ()hen did you see the problems*( +lmost invariably, they respond, (,n our second date( or ($he wee we met( or some other astonishingly early moment in their relationship. -esearch suggests that we can sense red flags in someone else's marriage after watching a troubled couple interact for #ust a few minutes. $urning this intuition to ourselves, we can scout for scarlet banners in our love lives. before, not after, moving in together. /ay particular attention to what psychologist 0ohn 1ottman calls the 2our 3orsemen of relationship apocalypse4 withdrawal, criticism, defensiveness, and, above all, contempt. If these elements characterize your relationship, you might want to hang on to that loft-for-one. $hin ing you can solve basic interpersonal problems by moving in together is li e trying to transform a rabid pit bull into a love pup by stapling its tail to the parlor floor. 5ou'll still have a big angry mess on your hands -- only now you'll be living with it.
Step 2: Articulate your assumptions
6ost of us outgrow such pre#udices as we gain e7perience, but even tolerant people retain a surprising number of untested assumptions shaped by life e7perience. +ll couples have slightto-serious differences in their beliefs about what is (normal.( 2rom doing laundry to dealing with stress, we tend to thin that our way is the way. It isn't possible to resolve all these clashing assumptions 8or even anticipate them9 before shac ing up. "ut you and your mate can discuss the fact that undiscovered pre#udices will emerge, and have a system in place for dealing with them. +gree to discuss at least four options whenever styles conflict4 my way, your way, our way, or both ways. 2or instance, suppose your impoverished childhood taught you to reuse aluminum foil, while your mate's family #ust threw it away. If you and your partner are pinching pennies, you may decide that reusing is a fabulous idea 8your way9. If you become prosperous, you may decide to pitch your used foil 8his way9. If this feels wasteful, you could adopt a new custom by recycling 8our way9. ,r you can simply agree to disagree, giving him permission to toss used bits of foil while you treasure them li e the :ead ;ea ;crolls 8both ways9.
it too /eggy and .
: A!oid tunnel "of lo!e# !ision
It ta es time and effort to establish a wor able live-in love. In our culture.cott why he wanted to go out. >ouples who focus too completely on each other may become enmeshed. !o matter how engrossing your new living situation may be. creating domestic conflicts in the process. $o do it right. and eat together.cott loved to eat out? his girlfriend. $hese days there's no rule boo for divvying up labor at wor and at home. this is a bad idea. :omestic and professional responsibilities often conflict. . Not Positions
In the rosy glow of fairy-tale romance. but by stic ing to your agreement. tumultuous process of setting up a house distract you from your nonromantic relationships. . and abandon friends. 5ou or your mate may feel grumpy during this time.
Step 3: Decide who wears which pants when
+mong the myriad assumptions that ma e cohabiting problematic. =nless your assumptions are a perfect match for your partner's 8not li ely9. 6oving in together will dissolve that little illusion as fast as you can say ()hat the hell are you doing with my >: collection*( 5ou can avoid ruining a relationship if you have one negotiation s ill4 addressing needs rather than positions. they can create serious rifts when you begin living together.but no one's really sure who wears which pants when. /eggy's concern was that they couldn't afford restaurant meals. then shop. "ut don't let the e7citing. )or ing from why -rather than repeating what you want -.cott only minutes to dream up a wee ly date. you'll need some training in negotiation. family. and private time. but believe me. 5ou and your partner need to tal about the division of labor in your prospective household.( he said. when they'd pic a menu from an ethnic coo boo .
Step 4: Negotiate Needs.If you decide to adopt a practice that is different from your past e7perience. develop what I've ta en to calling tunnel-of-love vision. /eggy. wor ing overtime to pay for a new fridge* 2iguring out who tac les which role may ta e a lot of startup time. as well as men. it seems impossible that you and your true love will ever have serious differences.
. (I li e ethnic food. calling the plumber. $hey argued a lot about this issue. traditional divisions between (what men should do( and (what women should do( have been destabilized by massive ideological and economic trends. you'll find things should smooth out in three wee s or so. it can save you enormous long-term conflict. there's a category so confusing and volatile that it deserves special attention. I as ed . always wanted to stay home. the e7pectations about the respective responsibilities of each partner in any given relationship. though.is one of the quic est ways I now to short-circuit arguments li e this. which means you both might be overburdened. 2or e7ample. may wear the pants in the family -. I'm tal ing about gender roles. coo . remember that it ta es about <% days of performing a new behavior before it becomes a habit. >an you decide now who wears the required pants for virtually every tas involved in managing your household4 coo ing. $his simple strategy has helped many of my clients smooth out relationship wrin les. cleaning.nce they identified their ob#ectives. 6odern women.
It's true that territory beyond moving in together. it's much more fun to live
. or a near-lethal /6. by either spending a few minutes every day in peaceful solitude or having coffee with friends. 5ou'll be in a much better position to handle a career crisis. attac without stressing your new roomie beyond all human endurance. beyond $he End. the death of your goldfish.. is less li e a fairy tale than early courtship. It requires attention to our intuition.n the other hand. careful e7pression of confusing emotions.ustaining a happy domestic life requires a resilient support system. s illful communication. . and a good deal of consistent daily wor . $he sequel tends to sound less e7citing and more mundane. +nd maintaining that networ is imperative. $he story of a contented life together is fran ly less fun to tell than the uncertain adventure of finding love. its themes increasingly subtle and comple7.