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Cohabitating 1011 of 11
By Julie Fishman
You've packed up your pad, signed the lease and can't wait to stop shuttling between apartments: yes, you're officially moving in with your significant other. While cohabitation is an exciting next step, the transition to sharing a home is fraught with potential pitfalls. To help steady your shacking-up course, we contacted relationship expert and author of The 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up, Sam Greenspan. Here are 10 tips and must-have products for successfully sharing bed and board.
Decide on Duplicates2 of 11
Make a list of the items both you and your plus one can contribute to the new home. Duplicates are inevitable and you'll have to decide whether to keep his comfy couch or your mod sectional. "Find a happy medium by selling both items and using the money to buy something that combines your tastes," says Greenspan. Invest in a piece that's timeless and can be kept for years to come like the mid-century modern Moebius Table from Design Within Reach.
Manage the Mush3 of 11
Each of you should note any sentimental items you're unwilling to part with. "Muster up all the maturity you've got and figure out what you can and should part with," says Greenspan. Consider setting a limit on the number of "must keep" items each of you can have. If he's unwilling to part with something you detest, like his worn-in recliner, then add some of your own style by pairing the chair with West Elm's Turned-Leg Dhurrie Ottoman.
Finances First4 of 11
Before shacking up, talk money with your man. Will you be splitting bills, or will one of you be doling out more dough? While a joint account may be a good idea, Greenspan suggests waiting awhile. "Breaking up with your live-in boyfriend is hard enough," he says. "Having to write a check for a fair share of the account adds insult to injury." Keep your paper bills in order with See Jane Work's Vintage Letter Holder.
Solo Sanctuary5 of 11
"It's human nature to desire an area you unequivocally control," says Greenspan. The smaller your home, the more important it is to carve out a spot that you can escape to when he's being a grouch or you just need some "me" time. If a separate room is not an option, then a reading nook will do the trick. Use the Hive's Reedy Bookcase as a fashionable and functional room divider.
Divvy Up Duties6 of 11
"Establish early on who’s going to handle what chores," says Greenspan. He suggests dividing each job in half: "If he cooks, she does the dishes; she does the laundry, he folds the clothes." If there’s a duty you dread, ask your beau about his most hated task and propose a trade. For bigger household jobs that require a tag-team effort, consult Good Housekeeping's The Complete Household Handbook, Revised Edition: The Best Ways to Clean, Maintain & Organize Your Home.
Pick Your Battles7 of 11
Make your pet peeves known right away so that they don't "add up, fester and lead to an explosion," says Greenspan, adding that, "every single person in the world has a quirk that will annoy at least one other person." If you're both unwilling to let minor transgressions go, then your home will be more like a wrestling ring than a love shack. Voice any concerns with Knock Knock's humorous Passive-Aggressive Nifty Notes.
Establish a Guest Policy8 of 11
Make an agreement on when your respective pals can and cannot come over. Greenspan suggests giving one another a head's up a week before, especially if your friend plans to spend the night. "It's not asking for permission; it's getting on the same page," he adds. Once you've laid down the laws, help overnight welcome (yours or his) by misting the sheets with Crabtree & Evelyn's calming Lavender Linen Spray.
Get Out and About9 of 11
While it's tempting to order Thai delivery and dominate the DVR every night, "it becomes even more important to schedule date nights when you live together," says Greenspan. Keep the spark alive by exploring the world outside your abode. No need for an expensive night on the town: Pack wine and cheese into the sleek and practical Britannia shoulder bag and head to the park or beach.
Cut the Cord10 of 11
Resist the urge to spend all your time together. "Independent plans aren't just something to go along with; they're something to encourage," says Greenspan. Understand when he needs a guy's night, and don't feel guilty if you go out with the girls. A little breathing room will help you appreciate each other more. Keep you schedules and plans organized by hanging a schoolhouse-style chalkboard in the kitchen.
Set Expectations11 of 11
Make sure that you both agree on what moving in together means. If you think it is a step toward engagement and he thinks the move is just a logical way to save money, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Greenspan warns, "You'll become roommates who sleep together, and no one thinks that's a good idea." Use Greenspan's book The 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up to hash out all of your concerns before shaking up. Just remember sometimes, it’s the small gestures that go a long way in making sure you don’t turn into an old married couple before you’re, well, an old married couple.