Living with a partner for the first time

So, you’re in love?

Relationships are like the weather. Sometimes the skies are clear while the sun beams down, other times clouds brew into storms which release chaos into our lives.

Watch this hilarious video on what moving in together for the first time is REALLY like.

After you’ve been with your partner for an appropriate amount of time (this varies from couple to couple: for some this could be 8-12weeks, others, 4-5 years, it is completely subjective and should only be broached when both parties are ready for the next stage of commitment).

It’s an exciting time when two people come together to share their life as an individual with the person they love.

Important things to consider

Where you are going to live

If you both live in the same area, this makes moving easier as it’s likely you’ll stay in your current location or at least be able to decide together without bias on a new location to live.

Some long-distance couples will struggle with this. When both of you live in different cities it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each city. For example, if one of you has children it is likely you will want to stay in the city where your children live. Or if one of you has parents who are unwell. Or if one of you has a career, and the other just a “for money” job.

It is important to discuss, compromise and ultimately agree on where you want to start your life together. As an example, in my relationship, we decided I would move to his city so he could be with his child, keep his well-paying career and remain close to ageing parents. My own parents are in good health, I am currently freelancing which is not location-based, and luckily, have no children as of yet. It also means I’m halfway between my father’s house, and my mothers, as my parents live 500 miles away from each other.

If you both are from a similar place, say the countryside or a bustling city, it’s easier to agree on a settled residence.

Other things are important to consider for the evolution of your relationship and the future. Is it a family area, children-friendly? Are there good schools, universities, doctors, hospitals? Do you have ample work opportunities? Will you need to travel a lot?

Mortgage or rented

Do you or/and your partner have enough money saved up to use for a deposit on purchased property investment? This often leads to cheaper monthly expenses as the rates of mortgages, even with interest, are lower than the renting averages. Then you need to think about the length of tenancy or mortgage. The longer the contract, the more secure you are and (if bought) a lower monthly cost. If it’s a rented property, is there a chance to buy in the future if you can afford it?

Do you want to decorate the house, and will this be allowed in a let property? Will you have to put the house back in the state it was in when you moved in? Could you lose your deposit?

Whose name do you put the property or tenancy in?

The smart answer would be both, if both people intend to pay their share into the property whether by paying their portion of the rent/mortgage or through substantial input in the deposit.

If one person earns significantly more than the other (more on this later) it’s only fair to have a written agreement (Prenuptial agreements) that lays out how you and your partner would divide things fairly. To do this you should make sure: The pre-nup is drawn up a qualified solicitor so that it is compliant with UK law.

Although a pre-nup is more necessary when buying a property to ensure the investment of a deposit and any monthly contributions are returned to the individuals that paid them, it could be useful in rented accommodation too. If, as a couple, you have invested in whitegoods, furniture, vehicles etc, it can help divide them fairly if things ever do go south.

It’s not admitting defeat or failing before you begin to have a plan B or a safety net. If you truly love your spouse, you would want them to have what is fairly and rightfully theirs in the first place. Your emotions at a time of upset could impact your ability to make rational decisions regarding the division of assets. People often feel entitled to their partner’s wealth after sacrificing time for them, but this is not the true case.

How you split finances

This is very much couple dependant. Some people keep it simple and divide everything 50/50. Others take into account who is the highest wage earner or works the most hours and split by a percentage. There are couples who divide things whereby one person pays for the base rent or mortgage, and the other covers utilities/bills. Other couples take turns paying for things like dates, unexpected expenses or activities.

Any joint accounts should not be used for wages but for outgoing payments like bills, direct debits, rent or mortgage, food shopping, anything deemed a shared expense. Outside of that, individuals money is their own and it should be their choice to share it with their spouse. If one spouse is much better off than their counterpart, it should be out of love and compassion they do things, buy things and book things for their other half, not out of obligation.

Couples should never become entirely dependent on each other, as it removes their ability to be self-sufficient, responsible, functional individuals and damaged their skills at self-care. If one partner is kind and gracious and generous enough to supply things for their loved one (whether this is their share of the rent/utilities, date money, mobile phones, clothes, alcohol/cigarettes, gym memberships, petrol money) it should still be appreciated as what it is; a gift. One should not come to expect this treatment, or become self-entitled, no matter the situation.

Managing household chores

Historically, socially and culturally it has always been the norm for women to bear the brunt of domestic responsibility; cooking, cleaning, house maintenance, homemaking and childcare.

In today’s society, it’s polite to be a little fairer on the separation and allocation of chores. If you want to be a dream couple, you could do chores together and turn it into yet another way to spend time with one another.

Cook together, eat together and wash up (or load the dishwasher if you’re that lucky) together. Alternatively, one person could cook and the other could clear up, then this is taken in turns. Obviously, if your spouse is sick, extremely tired, away with work, studying etc, it is nice to offer to help them out and take their turn for the

If one person works longer hours in comparison to the other, the person working lesser hours could/should pick up more of the domestic responsibilities.

You can have rules: when the bin is full, whoever last puts an item in has to empty it. This is easily applicable to laundry, dishwashers, etc.

None of this is applicable to child care. If you are a parent, your child is 100% your responsibility, whether you’re the mother or father. Until that child is introduced into your new partner’s life, they are entirely separate. Coming the point of integration, after a connection has been built over time the child is then a shared responsibility. Family, whether extended, by blood, by relationship/marriage, is family. In my family, we have always taken in people as our own, no matter the circumstances or background. My stepsisters and stepbrothers are as much my siblings as my blood-related sister. The same should go for children. They need positive, nurturing, healthy relationships around them. The more people to love a child, the better.

Child arrangements & the ex

If you or your spouse has a child from a previous relationship, it’s important to understand the situation. Will this child be living with you? If so, the introduction should have been done a long time prior to moving in. You will need to accommodate for them, whether they live there or not as the child should always have the opportunity to stay over with their parent wherever/whenever possible. Making efforts, like decorating, furnishing a spare bedroom for them, having children-fun activities ready in the house (an art and crafts box, children’s DVDs, board games, cards, video games, toys and so on) as well as preferred snacks and drinks.

Whether it’s you or your partner with the child, remember that things take time. New relationships are beautiful, happy creations but the end of a previous relationship could have been traumatic, painful or toxic and leave lasting damage that impacts a person well into the next relationship.

Communication needs to be open and honest between parents. As a new partner, it is not your place or responsibility to get involved. Your opinions should be neutral on how your partner handles childcare, child arrangements or behaviour with their ex. The essential thing to keep in mind is that their old relationship ended for a reason, and now they want to be with you but that does not take place or priority over their role as a parent.

Similarities and differences

This can cover a vast range of issues: budgeting, cooking, taste in music/food/decor. Maybe one of you hates spicy food, and the other loves a good old fashioned vindaloo. Is one of you a full-time Goth while the other is a pastel-lover?

It’s good to have similarities, it means you enjoy the same things, dislike the same things, appreciate the same things. This makes connections, builds your identification with one another and helps you get along.

On the other hand, if we’re too similar it can lead to problems when it comes to conflict. Two people with stubborn, explosive personalities will not have much luck resolving a heated debate. Two people who are shy and withdrawn in that same situation will also struggle to solve the issue.

We can also be too different. If two people fail to get along in more than half of all areas in life, this will make too much of their daily lives a struggle and ultimately lead to relationship breakdown. The right about of difference to balance out any similarities is key for a good relationship.

The secret to success, regardless of the subject matter, is thinking outside the box. Vindaloo, although traditionally spicy, could probably also be cooked without spice. Why not make the base dish, separate in two, then add spice to only one? That way your cool-tongued counterpart can enjoy the subtle tastes of your favourite dish without the unwanted kick. Date the person who lets you eat all their olives because they despise them.

What not to forget

  • Have fun
    Whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle, a night on the town, cheesy karaoke or Netflix and chill make sure you’re enjoying it. Try things your spouse enjoys, join in with their hobbies or if you get stuck, get a date jar and fill it with the things you both want to do. Then you can just pick one and go.
  • Spend time with each other
    Sit down to eat breakfast together, or eat it together in bed. Cook together. Turn off your screens and talk to each other. Meet each other’s families. Go out with each other and with other people. Workout together, shop together, shower together. Enjoy the little things that bring more joy when two people are involved.
  • Spend time apart
    If you live with someone, you’re in their face every day and vice versa. It’s important to take a break every once in a while. Go out with the lads, or ladies. See your family. Go outdoors into nature. Have a self-care day. Take a solo road trip. Whatever it is, go to find the routes of your self and reconnect so you can better serve your relationship. It’s important to keep a strong sense of self.
  • Don’t get jealous
    It’s normal to enjoy looking at attractive people but there’s a reason that out of all the other men/women/people out there, that your partner chose to be with you above all others.
  • Have boundaries and respect
    This could be with each other, family members, ex-partners, children, etc, but whatever the topic a mutual agreement should be had to ensure both people in the relationship feel respected and like they have a right to their privacy or space.
  • Communicate
    With each other, with your families, with your friends. Be honest. Don’t ignore issues but don’t start a conversation looking for a fight. Go into every discussion with a positive attitude and a solution based focal point.
  • Never go to bed angry
    Always make up.
  • Share
    Showers, desserts, drinks, housework, finances, feelings, everything.
  • Don’t hold grudges or build up resentment
    This goes hand in hand with the earlier advice to communicate. If there happens to be a problem you can’t resolve there are only two choices: accept it and move on with your partner, don’t accept i and leave.
  • Help each other carry baggage
    Instead of being frustrated by your partner’s past, accepting it and taking on the weight of their baggage lightens the load for both of you. You choose to be with someone for all the good, bad and ugly, even if sometimes it’s difficult.
  • Accept flaws and appreciate strengths
    People are not projects. You shouldn’t see your partner as a DIY Pinterest dream. They’re not a goal to achieve. If you love a person, you do so for them, not only to change them into what you wanted. That isn’t love. Usually, our opposing strengths and weaknesses will balance us out like ying and yang. When your partner stumbles or falls, it’s important to catch them. If you can’t, you can help them up.
  • Ignore negativity
    Whether this comes from ex-partners, family members, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. The only people who truly know and understand the relationship are the two people in that private relationship. Whatever the outside world speculates, labels or shuns, rise above it. You’re both better than that, and spending more time nurturing the love you have instead of fighting for it by defending it will bring more fulfilment to your lives.
  • Cut out or minimise time spent with toxic people
    This could be family, exes. co-workers, friends, or neighbours. Where possible, rid these viruses from your life or at least interact with them as
  • Move on from mistakes and arguments
    This is similar to don’t hold grudges but also covers point-scoring, competitive behaviour, possessiveness, and also those rare circumstances where one partner cheats, lies or steals from the other, is forgiven but punished at the same time for staying which is a toxic way of coping with the perceived betrayal.
  • Love each other endlessly and unquestionably

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