Your relationship has progressed to the point where you're ready to commit to moving in together...not quite marriage, but close enough, right? And, after all, this has been what you've wanted. You can visualize it now, even before it happens: a happy couple watching movies together, dining on gourmet dinners, spontaneous hugs and kisses... well, you get the idea. Ok, now for the reality. Before you make this step, here are 5 MUST consider AND DISCUSS items that absolutely need to be addressed before you so much as drop a box of your things at his/her apartment (or house).
1. Fiances. Tough subject to approach, yet it is imperative that you understand what YOUR financial obligations are. Are you splitting everything equally? Mortgage/Rent, food, bills, personal items, etc. At the checkout, do you divide that receipt completely in half? IF you feel that YOU are overwhelmed with too much of the financial burden, it is truly a fertile ground for breeding resentment.
2. Household chores. You're not moving in so that your partner gets free maid service, or a yard crew to keep the lawn mowed. Who is going to clean the house? Shared responsibility? Laundry? Do you each do your own, or is ONE person going to provide this? What about doing the dishes after dinner? What about making the bed, picking up stuff lying around the house? Point is, make a list of ALL household chores and assign it to either YOU, YOUR PARTNER, or BOTH. Make sure your list includes everything from taking out the garbage to creating a place for putting mail. You will be so happy you did.
3. Shopping. Yes, shopping. It's a huge dent in the timetable of your life, yet it needs to be done. Which of you is going to be responsible for ensuring that the list of items from the grocery store make it from the store to your cupboards? If your partner doesn't "care" what you purchase at the store, or doesn't care to provide any input as to what goes into his/her mouth, lucky you! Equally lucky you when that same partner complains that there is "nothing to eat" in the house. This task is something that MUST be assigned to someone - or BOTH of you!
4. Cooking/Meal Preparation This is a biggie. Does your partner just assume that food will magically appear every night? Who is going to prepare meals? Does your partner expect a huge breakfast? Are you going to be expected to make lunches in the morning as you both frantically get ready for work? Or, maybe you will be expected to prepare them the night before so they are READY when you both go to work? What about dinner? Does your partner expect a gourmet dinner every night - while he/she lays on the couch without assisting you in any way? When it's your partner's turn to cook (if you expect to take turns) are you getting a Lean Cuisine fresh from the microwave while he/she gets a 5 course dinner? OK, so you LIKE to cook - do you like it when it's EXPECTED that YOU do ALL the cooking? Again, determine what is ACCEPTABLE for you both. "If I cook, you clean" and on days that "you cook, I clean"....
5. Entertainment/Television. Now, you may be saying to yourself, "Jane, you're really grasping at straws here" HOWEVER, I assure you that when YOU want to watch Gray's Anatomy vs. Dog the Bounty Hunter you will totally REGRET NOT setting down television rules. MOST households have a minimum of 2 televisions, and with Hulu on computers, basically you can go watch whatever you want. Setting out who rules the remote will save you a ton of argument later down the road. Why? Because maybe the location of your other television set isn't as comfortable as the main one. Maybe your other T.V. is a 30" flat panel, and the main one is a 55" flat panel - well, you get the idea....
Moving in together can signify that you are both very committed to your relationship and making it work. It should be an exciting time and full of new adventures as you both take the next step with each other. Please, don't get so caught up in the fantasy of what it "will be like" without FIRST addressing the realities of life. If you talk about these things BEFORE you move in, it saves a ton of argument, resentment, and most of all NO confronting the issues AFTER you move in! Make it a GREAT Day!