BREAKING NEWS: I finally married my longtime girlfriend of five years! Props to me for taking the plunge after slowly inching my way into the pool of matrimony. This life-changing event has made me focus on the struggles (along with the joys) of cohabiting for the first time.
Living with a spouse or partner can be challenging but is also rewarding as long as respect remains in the equation. It is strange how one can lose his temper with a loved one at home over something trivial but can manage to maintain his composure with coworkers all day who he might not even like that much. When cohabiting, the two of you must be able to breeze over the small things and choose your battles wisely. Otherwise, home life can grow very annoying very fast.
Make a point of focusing on your partner’s interests. An even distribution of mutual free time is hard to manage when you’re used to living on your own. This is especially true when you cohabit in a smaller apartment where there isn’t a lot of separated living space. After dating for a while, couples tend to grow together as far as time spent out of the apartment is concerned. The problems tend to lie during downtime spent at home, whether caused by someone hogging the television, dominating the laptop, or maybe not providing the other with adequate amounts of “cuddle time” (ugh). It may not seem like fun for a guy to watch a Real Housewives of Antarctica marathon or for a girl to perfect a homemade barbecue sauce, but participating in your partner’s interests (or simply allowing them to do what they want for a while without being bothered) can help make his/her day perfect. On the flip side, make sure your voice is heard regarding what you’d like to accomplish to make sure you get the time you need (whether it be with your spouse or on your own).
That takes care of the fun portion of cohabitation. Now, let’s discuss chores. No one likes them, but you’re an adult, dang it! Chores need to be done and you know that you’ll be happier once the apartment’s clean, the pantry’s stocked with groceries, and you’ve taken the dog on a nice, long walk. In a cohabiting situation, if someone doesn’t hold up their end on chores it can be extremely frustrating for the other person. A good practice is to try to knock out the chores that need to get done at the same time when you both get home from work. This way, you know that the other person is doing his/her fair share. Also, this will allow you to enjoy the rest of your time together that day without worrying about housework.
Obviously, the dynamics of moving in with someone are ever-changing and the advice I’ve given only scratches the surface of what you’ll run into. However, no matter how different you think your cohabitation situation is, try to simplify it down to your raw feelings and where they stem from. As long as both of you are in touch with what you want/need and communicate this effectively, you will be on your way to a more gratifying living situation.