Moving in together is a huge step in any relationship. Whether you choose to do it long before the wedding or wait until after, the thought of sharing a bathroom with your beau can be a little intimidating. That's why we spoke to real couples about their experiences and had them share their most insightful pieces of advice for anyone about to cohabitate. If you're ready for some relationship realness, read on.
You may or may not be surprised by what changes.
For some couples, nothing will change when you move in together, while cohabitation will feel like a whole new world for others. Jacyn Fain, who has lived with her partner for over two years, falls into the first camp. "It was such a beautiful and effortless transition into each other's lives. I guess the surprise was how much we didn't know we were missing before we met each other," she says. Kaitlyn Brant, who has been living with her significant other for two years, agreed. "I was surprised by how easy it was to live together," she says. "That's probably a sign I moved in with the right person."
There may be an adjustment period.
Change takes time to get used to. Even so, Maura Florkowski, who lived alone before moving in with her partner ten months ago, says she adjusted quickly. "I was worried I would feel overwhelmed," she admits. "But I miss him when he's not here and need to hear his snoring." For Ted and Jessica Mottola, who have now lived together for ten years, adjustment simply meant understanding the other's quirks. "You discover a lot of weird habits. Ted likes to read magazines in the shower," Jessica says. Adds Ted, "And Jess likes to brush her teeth in the shower."
Get ready to do things for your partner.
Whether it's closing the shower curtain when her forgets, like Felicia Spence does for her husband, or splitting household responsibilities, like Matt and his partner, doing something for your significant other can really strengthen your bond. "It's easier to do something than complain about it," says Felicia. Matt agrees, adding, "Help chip in, don't be so formal about responsibilities around the house. Get whatever needs to be done, done. Your partner will love and appreciate it."
You'll need to learn how to get over fights fast.
When you're living with your significant other, you won't have a place to go and cool off. So resolving differences is important—the faster the better. Tiffani Lundeen, who has been sharing a home with her partner for five months, says she found talking through disagreements helps make living together easier. "Even though it sounds generic, I think it's important to talk things through. Don't be afraid to be honest, say what you feel, and admit when you're wrong," she says. "I can tell you from experience that women respond well to that."
Remember to show your partner that you care.
For some couples, this means coming home with flowers. For others, simply doing the dishes will suffice. Whatever it is that tells your partner you care, do it and do it often. Kevin O'Neill, who has been sharing a home with his wife for 44 years, says the simple act of fixing something around the house goes a long way. "Millennials are woefully under-skilled in home repair. Demonstrate that you can fix a leak, replace a window, or refinish a floor," he says. "It's dramatic proof that you care about the space and the girl you're sharing it with."
You may forget why you wanted to live together.
Every couple will bicker, and living together for the first time requires patience. But always remember why you wanted to live with this person in the first place. Clark Williams, who has been living with his partner for one year, says he always tries to take stock of what he gets out of sharing a home. "I make a point to remember how much fun it is to do nothing at all with the person you love," he says.