How To Adjust Living With Your Significant Other

Dear Megan,

My boyfriend and I moved in together recently. About 4 months ago.  We have been dating for almost 3 years now and thought we should take the next stop in moving in together. We are having a hard time living together. We never really fought and now we do. Is this normal? I feel like all we do now is fight. And it is about the silliest things, too. I thought moving in would be like a fun little sleepover every day, but I don’t really want to come home now. What can we do? Is not getting along like this a sign?

Thanks for taking the time to read my pathetic question!

Anonymous-BW

BW –

First, your question is in no way pathetic. We’ve all been there! Second, it’s totally normal!  Think of it this way – you both had your own space for 4 years of your relationship. (Whether or not you had roommates, since i’m unsure what your living situation was current to now). But you had space away from each other.  Living together is a whole different ball game. Josh and I will have lived together four years this coming August and we are still learning things.

You really get to find out a lot of habits from your significant other that you might not have known before. For example: Dishes.  When Josh and I got our own house two years ago (we had roommates prior), I was pretty adamant that as soon as we were done eating, we would clean the kitchen. Josh on the other hand, would leave dishes for the next day… or two or three. It would drive me absolutely insane. To come home from work and see a messy kitchen stressed me out. Instead of talking about it, I just did dishes. While I was doing dishes, I would be super upset. I wouldn’t even want to talk to Josh, and let me tell you, if he even thought to ask me “What do you want for dinner?” I would have lost my cool. (more on this question later!) However, Josh would see me do the dishes and just think I didn’t mind doing them. And because I didn’t ask for help, well, I must be good. So he would do something else… Well, that caused fights. What I was interpreting as “ugh he never wants to help me – why can’t he just offer to help?” He was interpreting as, “Oh how sweet – she’s doing the dishes for me.”

We have to remember that we cannot read each other’s minds. After I asked him a few times to help me, he did without question. He just didn’t know that I would have preferred help. He assumed I was fine doing them alone. And I assumed he was being a talklazy brat. Since we’ve talked about it, he actually washes the dishes more than I do. I will dry them and put them away. It’s a system that works for us. I don’t particularly enjoy putting my hand in dirty water and cleaning food off dishes. Obviously I will if I have to, but it grosses me out. And don’t even get me started at how peanut butter smells after hot water ran over it. Plus, I enjoy painting my nails, so I have definitely complained about them chipping more often. (Yes I do actually wear gloves). So, he washes, I dry.

It’s been said time and time again, that communication is key. And it’s so very true. You should talk to your significant other about chores. It sounds juvenile, but I can bet that it will help. You each might have different ideas of what to do when.

Laundry schedule: This one can be tough depending on work schedules, too. Josh and I both have a Monday – Friday job. Although he typically has to work Saturdays for overtime. Josh will do his laundry during the week, and I’ll usually do mine on Saturday when he’s working. But definitely talk about if you will do each other’s laundry, too. Josh is not allowed to do my laundry and he knows that. I’m too particular. However, he doesn’t mind if I do his laundry, although he’s pretty good about keeping up with it himself.

Bathrooms: I highly highly recommend having two bathrooms, if possible, when you live with another person. It can be 1.5 baths, but just two places to go to get ready, especially if you need to get ready at the same time. Are you a night or morning showerer? I take showers at night and Josh takes them in the morning. If you are both on the same schedule, then make a plan.  Cleaning the bathroom. Not the funnest, but it’s gotta be done.

BILLS: this is a big one. A lot of couples don’t want to talk about money, but it’s one thing that couples argue about the most. Do you want to switch off months? (he pays one mmoneyonth then you pay the next). Does he put all the bills in his name and then you just pay
him half?  It’s easier to split bigger grocery bills since their registers can split it, but what happens if you go grocery shopping alone? Do you want to open an account together to dump money into and then use THAT for bills? Do you want to keep track of who spends what each month? If someone makes more money, will they take on a little more of the bills or is everything 50/50? Talking about bills can be an awkward conversation, but it needs to happen.

Days away: Always make sure to spend time with your own friends. Go out and do something – even if it’s just a short amount of time, or a weekend getaway. Don’t ignore your friendships. I know it’s super tempting to always want to hang out with your significant other, but you also can’t shove others aside.

Be courteous: Are you running late? Did you get stuck at work? Let them know so they aren’t worried about you. A quick “i’m running late” makes anxious people like myself feel more at ease. Just be mindful that if someone tells you they are running late or got stuck at work, to not grill them right away about why. You live together. Ask them later. Are you going to the grocery store without them? Ask if they need anything. Are you making dinner plans with someone else? Let them know so they aren’t expecting to have dinner with you.

Don’t stop dating. As lovely as it is to sit on the couch and binge watch your favorite TV show, it will get old after a while. Make a monthly date somewhere. It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Josh and I love going to Wine Wednesdays – a wine bar in our town does half price datingbottles of wine, so we will go there and order a few glasses (thank you Uber – please don’t drink and drive, guys!) and just talk and enjoy each other’s company. These are NO PHONE dates. If we are just sitting on the couch, let’s be real, we are both screwing around on our phones. And that’s normal and totally fine. Just don’t whip out your phone while on a date.  And wine not your thing? Do something else! Check to see what’s in your town. Do you have a place to place darts or pool? Josh and I don’t always go out. We have found some fun 2-player games and we will sit at home and play a game. But don’t stop dating.  Josh and i made that mistake and fell into the trap of “work-come home-cook-eat-clean up-binge watch TV-bed” and that’s it. Not only did we gain weight, but we got bored of each other and then we started into a routine of he did his thing and I did mine and I barely talked to him for months. That was not a good time.  So, definitely do one or two no phone date nights.

And to include in the dating part, try and surprise them every now and then. I’ve put little “hello handsome” notes in Josh’s lunch or just decided to do a deep clean on the house when he was gone working on Sat and I was at home and he came home to a nice clean house…. guess who got a foot rub then… I did!

You will eventually learn that “what’s for dinner?” is a dangerous question. I don’t know how many times couples fight about this. And it seems such a silly thing to fight about. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there, Done that. But I have a few ideas on how Josh and I have avoided this fight in a very long time.  The first thing to note, is that before you decide to surprise someone, make sure you know what they like and don’t like for foods. I definitely found that Dinnerout the hard way when cooking for Josh. He hates Thyme! Imagine that. It totally ruined the French Onion Soup for him. I thought it was great, but hey, it left him hungry. Oops. But second, have a no fail back up plan. My favorite food is anything Mexican. So, if I ask Josh “what would you like for dinner?” And he says “I don’t know,” then tacos it is. If he has a suggestion or something he wants, then we can go for it, but an “i don’t know” means tacos.  Now, if Josh asks ME what I want for dinner, and I don’t really know (or truly don’t care), then it’s Chinese take out. So if I don’t want takeout, I better speak up. That is our no-fail way to NOT fight about dinner. And for the love of goodness, please don’t say “I don’t care” when you actually do. If you say “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” and the other person gives a suggestion, you better not say “Well, no not that.” Sorry, you lost your chance by saying “I don’t know.” 🙂

I can’t reiterate enough about “we can’t read each other’s minds.” SO SO SO often when I’m talking with either my siblings or my friends, I hear situation get out of control for no reason:

“Oh my gosh, he hasn’t texted me back in a few hours so he must be mad at me. I don’t even want to talk to him now.”
–> He was at work and left his phone in the car. mind reader

“There’s all this laundry to fold and she decided to go out with her friend instead? This place is a mess! I guess I’ll fold this myself again.”
–> Her friend was having a bad night and she planned to finish folding laundry when she got home.

“Seriously?? Why are these empty cans just sitting here on the counter? The recycling bin is RIGHT HERE. ugh, i’ll just crush them myself I guess.”
–> He brought up the cans to crush later, but wanted to finish a video game first.

I could go on and on with those examples, but I think you all get the idea. It’s very very easy to jump to conclusions. We all do it. I’m very guilty of this. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Every single relationship is so different. If something is bothering you, talk about it. We all have good days and bad days. But it’s better to ask and then find out you’re overreacting than to sit and wonder.

I highly highly recommend reading “The 5 Love Languages.” You can even buy the book on Amazon, too.

Living together can definitely be like a sleepover every night. It took us about a year and a half to really figure it out. But I can honestly say that once we learned all those little things about each other, it turned into the “sleepover” kind of feel more often. Give your relationship time to flourish. Even though you’ve been together for a while, there’s still a lot to learn.

laugh

Love always,
Megan
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Thank you everyone for reading!

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