Moving in with your partner is a big, exciting, and sometimes scary step to take in any relationship. Sure, you know you deeply love and care for your partner in your environment and most likely in theirs, but moving in together means you'll be permanently sharing space and creating a home in partnership. This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationship and create new rhythms with each other, but it also comes with a unique set of challenges. From deciding who takes out the trash to figuring out just how much time you spend with each other, there is a lot to navigate when it comes to sharing space.
If you and your partner have recently taken the plunge and moved in together, we hope the following tips and advice from therapists and mental health professionals will help make this a smooth (and fun!) transition into the next chapter of your life together as a couple.
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1. Communicate Your Needs Often
Meg Leahy, MS, NCC, BCC, is a Philadelphia-based educator and counselor who believes the most important element in any relationship is communication, especially when you live together. "Your partner can only know as much as you share with them," she shares with Hunker. "The more open and honest you can be with each other, the easier it will be to adjust to cohabitating and navigating life in general."
Counselor and grief therapist Jillian Blueford, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CT, agrees. "We don't often consider how much time we put into creating a space at home where we can relax and recoup from a busy day, including the specific routines and rituals we need to feel comfortable," she tells Hunker. "When we integrate physical spaces with someone, it is crucial to communicate those routines and needs to each other, even if they feel small, like when to clean the dishes."
2. Let Your Partner Know How They Can Support You
Elizabeth Mass, LICSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist in private practice, suggests that another way to communicate your needs with your partner is to let them know how they can support you in your home. You'll now be together at times when you usually aren't, like returning home from work, for example, and it's good to know what you can expect from each other.
"After a hard day, it can feel easy to start sharing what went wrong, how you're feeling, or what you wished had gone differently without thinking about how you hope your partner will respond," Mass tells Hunker. "All too often in this scenario, your partner may feel uncertain about how to respond and ultimately may respond in a way that does not feel helpful to you. This can cause disappointment, anger, anxiety, and frustration in both parties."
In order to avoid this, Mass offers a few examples of what support may look like for you, such as asking for advice, validating your emotions, a hug, a distraction, a meal, discussing a time your partner went through something similar, or asking your partner to sit in silence with you as you process internally. Being transparent can also make it easier for your partner to know how to support you in the future, which in turn deepens your relationship.
Of course, it works both ways. "If you are feeling upset, it can be easy to forget to tell your partner how you want to be supported," Mass says. "If that happens, partners can step in and ask, 'How can I best support you?'"
3. Don’t Forget About Alone Time
"Everyone needs alone time in order to thrive," family and grief therapist Skyler Taylor shares with Hunker. "Moving in together can make this a little more complicated since you are now sharing the same living space. Even if you and your partner enjoy the same hobbies, make sure you get moments where you do things alone."
It's important to know whether you recharge alone or recharge with others and to not be afraid to communicate your needs to your partner. "Wanting some alone time doesn't mean your partner doesn't love you or isn't interested in you anymore; it just means your partner is human," Taylor says.
4. Stay Positive and Celebrate Often
While moving in with your partner comes with its challenges, it is also worthy of celebration. Looking on the bright side and having a positive outlook toward your new home and living situation can go a long way and will keep things positive and fun.
"Research has proven that positive feedback is the most effective feedback. Keep this in mind as you settle into your new space together," Leahy says. "Point out the things that are going well, that make you feel loved, and that you'd like to see more of. Everyone likes to be reminded that they're important and that they're loved."
In addition to simply discussing and telling your partner what you love about them, living together also provides new opportunities to show them. "Something as simple as a sticky note left on the bathroom mirror can brighten the day!" Leahy suggests.
5. Remember Transitions Are a Process
Dr. Blueford reminds us that beginning this new chapter also means ending the previous one, and grieving the previous chapter is important and worthy of your time.
"For couples who have just moved in together, it can be a moment of joy and excitement for the future but also a moment of loss of their way of living, norms, and physical space," she says. Communicating your needs and having discussions about your routines and how you lived previously are important for creating a new rhythm in a new home, but it's also important for the grieving process that comes with a move.
"When those expectations go unspoken, the other person doesn't know how to adapt and change, resulting in resentment and a more challenging grieving process," Dr. Blueford says.
Moving is stressful, after all, even in the best circumstances. Finding a new groove won't happen overnight, and that's okay. "Give yourself some time to recover before you begin to unpack, both emotionally and physically," Leahy suggests. "As important as it is to use your words, it's also imperative that you practice listening as well. Sometimes, we learn the most from what emerges from silence."