cohabitation tips16 Dec 2021
the other day, i connected with a friend about some relationship advice that i’ve found my way into over the past 6 or so years. these three tips i’ve found to be extremely helpful when it comes time to move in with a partner. they are extra true when one or both people are moving to a new city/town. these are lessons that i have learned from my own direct experience or i’ve learned them in community with other people who were going through their own experiences. as with all advice, take the best, leave the rest.
have your own friends
it’s important for each person to have their own friends. people who you can each rely on that don’t have a strong tie to the other partner. this is especially important because it’s good to have people who you can talk to about the relationship who here for you. it’s even better if they’ve known you for a long time. you each want to have people in your corner. not because you and your partner are adversaries; you want people in your corner because you want to be able to trust when they give you advice that they are looking out for YOU.
have couple friends
in addition to having your own separate friends, you want to have couple friends. that is, people you know you as couple and are here for you as a unit. they want the best for you together. it’s especially important for these couple friends (can be individuals or other couples) be willing and able to say hard truths to the two of you together. people who can name dynamics they see, tell your their own experiences, listen to you deeply, and care for you when you are out of your depths.
couples therapy is one good option but it’s not the only one. whatever you choose, as soon as you move in (if not before), get in a good routine with that support person/infrastructure. you want to have good familiarity long before something goes wrong. because, as far as i’ve seen, something will almost always go wrong. i think i’ve known two couples where nothing went off the rails in the early years of living together. and when that moment happens, you want it to feel easeful to reach out to your support structure; you don’t want to be in crisis and then scrambling to find support.
have regular check-ins
when you move in with someone, the stakes in conversation go up because you live together. before, when you had a hard thing to bring up, you could do it over dinner or after sex (or whenever) and then one of you could/would leave. now, when a hard thing has to be said, you probably have to see each other when you go pee. that can make it much harder to say hard things to each other as they arise. having a regular check-in (weekly, bi-weekly) can support both partners to be aware of something they want to bring to the other, have space to prepare to say it in a good way, and then say it in a container that was built for it. of course, as much as possible, you should bring things up as they arise. it’s always better than letter things fester. but if you have a regular check-in, it can give you each a recurring opportunity to say a hard thing without the pressure of saying something throwing off the vibe at a bad time.
that’s what i got. how does that resonate for you? or not? what else would you add?
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