Taking your relationship to the next step? Read this first
No matter how easy the rom-coms make it look, according to a new study done by UGallery, 83 percent of women say moving in together is really tough. If you're not prepared, the little things that come with the new level of intimacy can easily blow up even the best relationship. If you can't figure out how to share dog duty, what's going to happen when you have to share family time over the holidays? “This is why it's so important to prevent the most common problems before you ever set foot over a shared threshold,” says Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., relationship expert, and author of The 30-Day Love Detox.
Here, the top five issues couples have when bunking up, and Walsh's expert advice on how to deal with each one.
A recent study found that even in couples who choose to live together women still do the majority of housework, as in 90 percent of the chores—even if both partners are working. If that isn't A-OK with you (and why would it be?), Walsh suggests having a discussion before you even move in together about who is going to do what. We know coming up with a chore schedule is not exactly romantic, but then neither is spitefully scrubbing the dishes at midnight while imagining smothering him with his pillow.
When it comes to money, you should agree to at least split things 50/50 or have him pay a little bit more. "Most men like to feel like a provider," Walsh explains. It may not seem "fair" at first, but she points out that your relationship with your boyfriend isn't the same as a roommate, so you shouldn't treat moving in with him like choosing a tenant on Craigslist. In addition, you need to safeguard yourself financially. Even though living together isn't the same as being married, Walsh says that breaking up is often like a divorce—except without the legal protections. A good first step is to keep your personal accounts in your name so your savings and credit history won't be in trouble if things go south.
But the best thing you can do, according to Walsh, is to have a written agreement about how bills are going to be split. She also recommends you get familiar with the Common Law or Common Property statutes in your state.
Scheduling sex can be sexy! "People expect moving in to be like dating but with more access to sex, but you need to understand that it eventually settles down,” Walsh explains. “It doesn't mean you're falling out of love with that person but that you're moving to a deeper, calmer stage of love.” This just means you need to find ways to physically connect rather than expect it to happen spontaneously.
In addition, you should be open to other ways of keeping each other satisfied. "Don't compare your sex drive with his," she says. "Men are like microwaves—quick to heat up and quick to finish—while women are more like crockpots." She suggests taking advantage of quickies, lunchtime meet-ups, and oral sex in between longer more romantic sessions.
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The toilet seat is going to get left up. When one of you is a stander while the other is a sitter, it just happens. Yet sharing a bathroom doesn't have to be a problem. Walsh recommends deciding early on what you can let slide (an empty toilet paper roll or toothpaste in the sink?) and what you can't (pee on the floor?). Working out a bathroom routine will take compromise on both of your parts but whatever you do, don't nag—or you'll end up with exactly the behaviors you don't want, Walsh says. "It's much better to reward his good habits then to keep reminding him of his bad ones."
No one wants zombie blood messing up their wedding gown when The Walking Dead conflicts with Say Yes to the Dress, right? But even though survey respondents were so worried about conflicting TV habits that it made the top five worries, Walsh says it's not show squabbles that are the real issue, but how you handle conflict in general. There will be a million things to fight and often those fights start over something little, like the TV. "You should never move in with someone until you have had at least one huge fight," she advises. It's not so you can have great make-up sex but rather so you can see how you both handle conflict. She even says some couples counseling pre-move-in can be a great way to figure out how to resolve arguments.
In the end, working out the kinks is about good communication and expectations. "Research shows that happy cohabiting couples are prepared to answer the important questions, like where the relationship is headed in addition to the day to day stuff," she says. "And if he (or you) isn't willing to answer the hard questions, then you probably shouldn't be moving in together."