Editor’s Note: Our August theme on W&D is about planting seeds for the life you want. As we near the end of the month, we’re revisiting an article Kate originally wrote in February 2020. In it, she explores the most important questions to discuss before moving in together with a partner. It’s a particularly apt topic for this month’s theme and we hope you find some wisdom in her words.
The first morning in our new apartment after moving in together, Joe went out for bagels. We had been out late the night before and I had removed my contacts around 3 a.m. and thrown them on the bedroom floor. Groggily, I slumped out of bed and into the living room, fully knowing a bagel with a very heavy hand of cream cheese smear would make last night settle in my stomach and fade into a distant memory. Inside the bag, I found a small box, and in that small box, my engagement ring.
Joe and I knew we’d be engaged shortly after we moved in together. It was discussed, at length, even though at the time, we’d only be dating for a couple of months. That’s one of the reasons I knew he was “the one”—we both wore our hearts on our sleeve. But this proved harder as life became more intertwined.
Don’t get me wrong—in some ways, it’s great! Saving money on rent AND living with the person you’re sleeping with? It’s a win-win.
That is until real life comes crashing into the bedroom door, and unfortunately, my sweet love birds, then it can be a real B.
I’ve found the old saying, “What you love about them now will drive you crazy later” to be especially true as Joe and I turn the corner into our seventh year of marriage. What we have figured out is that these traits aren’t something to fear and avoid—they’re signals that we need to stay vigilant about communication.
These questions are the ones we should ask before our relationships are unfolding over shared boxes and mismatched coffee cups.
These questions are the ones we should ask before our relationships are unfolding over shared boxes and mismatched coffee cups. Over the debate on whether to hang that old poster from college or get rid of that sentimental chair.
Because while we all do our best to communicate, inevitably we all have blind spots. And it’s best to get everything out on the table before signing a lease or buying a home.
Is it because you live in an expensive city? Or because you think it’s the logical next step in your relationship? Could it hurt the relationship or help the relationship? Why would it strengthen your current relationship and do you have the same desired vision for the future of your relationship?
Should you move into their place or yours? Or does it make sense to start fresh, free from ghosts of relationships past? Does it work for your commute or work-from-home situation? What is your ideal living space? What are the three things you both want your home to look and feel like? How will you handle decoration? Maintenance? Say you’re more of a Joanna Gaines and they have really strong opinions about displaying their shoe collection. WHO WINS? Or is it even worth fighting about it?
How will shared expenses be handled? Will you have a joint savings account? Who will be responsible for paying bills? How will groceries and day-to-day expenses be handled? Will you each keep a checking account?
What are your pet peeves? What might trigger your partner about you? Are your sleeping habits compatible? How will moving in together change your sex life? How will you handle a slump in your intimacy? When it comes to personal space, how much do you need? Are you able to ask for “me” time? How clean are you? How clean are they?
At this point in your relationship, what do you fight about? What bothers you about the way you handle conflict? What happens if you dislike being in the same room after a fight? Do your fights usually result in you growing closer and moving past your issues? Is there a fight you have continually? Is it something that will be more of an issue by combining your living spaces and sharing expenses? Are you prepared to be very clear about issues upfront? Are they?
Family dropping by unannounced? Late nights out with friends? Overspending? What about porn? Infidelity? Be sure to discuss deal-breakers that would have you looking for a new sublet.
What happens if you break up? How would you split up joint purchases? What about pets? Have you seen each other sick? Do you have any potential medical emergencies that they’d need to assist in? What happens if one of you falls ill for a long period of time?
The thing I’m most proud of in my life is my marriage to Joe. We fight for its health and strength every day. Asking hard questions and being honest about our feelings—that’s the foundation of a relationship that is met with compassion and vulnerability. It feels uncomfortable at the time, but you get to reap the benefits of intimacy for a lifetime. <Cue an over-the-top AWWWWWWWWW.>
BY Kate Arends - August 30, 2022
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.