How To Successfully Live With Your Partner (And Not Want To Kill Each Other)
Successful cohabitation is a balancing act of sex, money, cleaning, food and feelings – here’s a rough guide on how to coast through the potential hurdles of bunkering down with your plus one.
Putting conscious work into a relationship is a concept many people have difficulty with. We put years of thought and dedication into other important things in our lives (like our careers and bodies), with minimal complaint. Yet often when things become less than perfect in a relationship, our knee-jerk reaction is to start considering whether the person is right for us.
The reality is that when you live with your partner, love is not always enough to make things run smoothly. If you’re thinking about, or already are, living with your lover, there are a few tips that can make a world of difference.
Be open about your finances
Talking about money is not something most people find romantic. Yet fighting about money is arguably more unromantic; it’s one of the top predictors of divorce. If finance can split up people who are legally bound and have many years of experience together, it’s something you may want to chat about.
Prior to moving in together, discuss your spending habits and expectations. Be up front with where your money goes and how you expect the two of you are going to navigate the financial aspect of your relationship.
You’ll want to be clear on how rent and bills will be split and paid, how much you want to spend on food per week and whether you’re going to share a bank account or continue to operate separately.
As you begin to live together you’ll notice that you and your partner probably have different ways of spending. It’s easy to think one way is right, and the other wrong, so be honest yet kind with each other about this. The more visibility you provide, the less nasty shocks and ‘why didn’t you tell me about this?’ conversations you’ll need to have.
Be conscious and proactive about sex
In the early stages of a relationship (AKA: pre-living together) sex is as natural as breathing. You do it all the time, often without meaning to, and if you’re lucky, multiple times a day. The honeymoon period makes everything effortless.
Once you move in together it’s really easy to stop having sex and replace it with sleep, food and Netflix. Maybe it’s getting comfortable and seeing each other bloated in your trackies after too much snacking, or maybe it’s long hours at work that sap your will to live – either way, it’s really easy to go from rabbits to grumpy, hibernating bears.
Plan sex. Sure, it sounds unromantic, but once you move in together, unless you tell each other ‘we are having sex on Wednesday’, it won’t happen nearly as much as you want/need it to.
Once you get over the ‘ugh, I can’t believe I’m planning sex’ dilemma, the whole thing actually becomes sexy. You have something to look forward to at work, something to look good for and something to send each other explicit texts about.
All work and no play makes anyone hard to live with. Which brings us to the next point.
Make time for ‘date night’
Psychologist and relationship expert Melanie Shilling says date nights are critical to a couple’s happiness.
Date night is a time for you and your partner to get out of your usual routine, flirt with each other over hard liquor at a dimly lit bar and be reminded of why you found each other so attractive in the first place.
The aim is for all grudges revolving around unwashed Tupperware and wet towels to be forgotten.
Use food as a way to bond
Doing the grocery shopping together makes it much less of a daunting, soul-destroying task and eliminates any resentment that can occur if only one of you does it.
Plan your meals for the week or buy groceries that are transferrable to multiple meals and agree on how many/which days you both want to eat out.
Cook together or take turns cooking for each other. Make preparing meals something you do to nourish and care for each other, rather than just another chore. Eat at the dinner table together, use it as a chance to communicate away from your tech devices and reconnect after a long day.
Essentially, don’t let food become something you argue about; make it something you enjoy together.
Use friends and hobbies as ‘you’ time
A 2013 report that looked at 1.3 million Facebook users found that couples whose mutual friends know each other are more likely to break up, while couples whose friend circles don’t overlap as much are likely to stay together longer.
So spend time apart, hang out with your friends without each other. You sleep together every night; it’s important to give yourself a chance to actually miss each other.
John Aiken, a relationship psychologist, says time apart encourages each person to maintain their own sense of identity and stops couples from suffocating each other. So be honest about the social and personal space you both require.
Your partner is going to have filthy habits that drive you absolutely mental, and vice versa. Happily living with someone is coming to terms with the reality that not everything will go the way you want it to.
Don’t keep tabs on each other; no tit for tat. The world won’t end if they forget to take the rubbish out one week or come home three hours late after a night out.
However, if you are constantly abandoning your needs and dreams to satisfy your partner’s, you may be sacrificing rather than compromising. A compromise is an agreement you come to where both of you are meeting each other in the middle – if you feel you are giving more than you are getting it could start negatively impacting your relationship.
Share cleaning duties
This one is a 21st century no-brainer. Couples who do an equal amount of housework report more relationship satisfaction and have more sex, so discuss how you’re going to fairly split the chores to make sure one of you doesn’t end up doing everything and you both get some.
It’s worth it.
Evie Kennedy is a media professional, writer and literature junkie. She likes to punch, kick and lift things in the name of health and is trying to write a novel.