Moving in together – a guide for guys

Imagine having your girlfriend there to fall asleep with every night, wake up beside, and eat meals with, every day. This thought can make you want to call her to tell her to pack her bags and move in with you, or shudder with fear. But if you venture into this unprepared, you’ll want to ship your new roommate out with the empty boxes.

Living together as a couple is one of the big steps of any relationship, right up there with marriage and starting a family, only your commitment isn’t bound by vows, nor are you bringing another human life into the picture.

As well, moving in together shouldn’t cause the same cold feet as marriage — it can be an excellent experience, making every day feel like a honeymoon. You just need to make sure you’re ready.

r-u-ready?

While living together can reap some of the advantages of marriage, it also packs in some inconveniences. Forget about going out without telling her who you’re going with, where you’re going and when you’ll be home. Think twice before you grunt, scratch and burp after every meal and during football. And hockey. And baseball. And golf. Oh yeah, while we’re at it, forget about watching only sports. You’ll also need to make time for figure skating, prime-time dramas and the soap operas she records every day.

So how can you tell that you’re ready to make the big move? A good start is by considering the following points:

How long have you been together?

How long you’ve been together isn’t the most accurate gauge of whether or not the move should be made, as time is relative to the point of your life in which you find yourself. A year together for a thirty-something couple is probably not equivalent to a yearlong relationship for 22-year-olds. As well, the decision should be based on how much you want this person to be a part of your everyday life — literally.

How much time do you spend together?

If you find that you’re with your girlfriend seven nights a week, at one of your apartments, and even spend every waking hour with each other, then perhaps living together is worth it. But keep in mind that those seven nights of “sleepovers” are not necessarily equivalent to actually living together. No matter how much time you spend with one another, the precious moments you have at home, on your own, might be enough to give you the breather you need. When you live together, there are few places you can escape to.

Are you ready to live with someone?

You might feel that you’ve lived on your own for enough time already, and are prepared to share your living space with that special someone. If you’re simply tired of being alone and want someone to come home to — and luckily for you, that someone is your girlfriend — then maybe the time to share a space has arrived.

Do you know who you are?

Speaking of having lived on your own, it might not be a good idea to go from living at home with your family to moving in with your girlfriend, unless it’s against your family values to live on your own until you’re married. It’ll also be a shock to your system when you learn that your loving roommate does not intend to do your laundry, fold your underwear and socks, and cook you dinner every night, just like mommy did. But once you’ve lived out on your own for a while and know how to fend for yourself, it might be an easier transition to make.

Are you eventually going to marry her?

If you know this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, why not start out by living together to get a feel for what lies ahead? If you’ve discussed marriage with each other and you know she’s the one, then there’s no better time to call the movers.

Are you doing it for the rent?

If you spend countless hours at each other’s apartments and figure that you may as well cut your rent in half by living together, eventually you’ll probably want to cut your time spent together in half. Saving money on rent should be considered a result of moving in together, not a motivation.

race to one space

You might be elated to move in with your sweetheart, and as long as the two of you are ready, it can be a great step. Whoever said that you don’t know someone until you live with them must have lived with his girlfriend, and even if you’ve been an item for years, the little things you’ll learn about each other will surely surprise you. Traveling together is one of the “relationship tests” every couple should endure, but a vacation is a walk in the park compared to sharing the same living space.

While getting a dog together to test your ability to care for another life form as a team and traveling overseas can serve as wakeup calls, living with your girlfriend can be a rude awakening to say the least — so make sure you’re ready. Do not live together if one of you is being pressured in any way; you must both be prepared to go into this head first, because if you approach the move prematurely and it doesn’t work out, it could mean the detriment of your relationship.

I may have already talked you out of moving in together, but I hope not because I do believe that it’s a necessary step in a serious relationship of long-term capacity. And if you go about it the right away and with the right attitude, you might never want to leave home at all — that is, when she’s there.

survival tips

Sacrifice and compromise

If you’re a neat freak who can’t stand your girlfriend’s tendency to leave plates piling up in the sink, don’t wig out on her if she waits until the end of the day to do the dishes, and by the same token, she should make a concerted effort to clear the sink. As well, if you’re an early bird and your girlfriend has lunch at dinnertime, let her sleep and don’t be noisy in the morning. Make some sacrifices just to put her at ease, and make sure the effort is reciprocated — this is your roommate with benefits, after all.

Make schedules

Speaking of making compromises, a good way to ensure that you both fulfill your end of the bargain is by scheduling each other’s duties. It doesn’t have to be carved in stone, but at least a schedule can outline what each one should do to make sure they’re pulling their own weight in the apartment. You can divide everything from doing the groceries and taking out the trash to vacuuming, and no, performing a sexual favor or two won’t get you out of toilet cleaning detail (okay, maybe just once).

Outline details immediately

Making schedules of household chores is nowhere near as important as outlining the “contract” of your living arrangement — the lease. It is imperative that you both understand and agree to the terms of the lease and however it is split. The same goes for house or condo ownership, if you decide to purchase. Of lesser importance but key nonetheless, are the terms of your living arrangement. Make sure you’re on the same wavelengths where your budgets and social lives are concerned.

Get your own life

Speaking of social life, it’s important that you each maintain your own lives outside of the apartment walls. You should understand if she wants to go out with the girls or have them over for dinner, and she should equally understand that you could go out with your buddies, without feeling guilty if she’s staying home alone watching reruns. And don’t feel guilty for having your own plans once in a while — you each need your separate lives, so that you don’t reach the point of total dependency.

Set up alone time

By the same token, make sure that you each have time to chill out on your own, apart from socially. Even if you don’t have separate rooms, your own space doesn’t need physical walls — establish that you might just sit in the kitchen reading the paper or want to watch TV alone in the den. She should do the same, and make sure to respect each other’s “me time.”

Designate purchases

It might also be a good idea to split up your large purchases. Rather than dividing the cost of the couch and fridge, I recommend splitting up the actual purchases, such as furniture vs. electronics, or bedroom vs. kitchen. In the case of an eventual breakup, it might be hard to split the bed down the middle, even if it is a king size.

call the movers, we’re coming

As you can see, there’s more to think about and work on than simply finding a place you both agree on and calling the movers. Make sure you establish all the details of your living arrangement, and understand that there is nowhere to run and hide if you get into a fight and can’t get away with bringing a new girl home.

But don’t get scared because although this is a huge step in any relationship, it is worth taking if you love spending time together and want to share more than memories — the good and the not-so-good.

via Moving in together – AskMen.

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Increasing Honesty in a Relationship

So how do you increase the honesty in marriage?

1. Speak up.

By speaking up I’m not saying that you remove the filter between your brain and mouth, but speak up more. How often do you avoid replying or bringing something up out of fear of your partner’s reaction? There are times when you need to speak up in order to help your marriage and each other grow.

Many couples fall victim to thinking “if my spouse really cared about me, they’d be able to figure out what I’m feeling or thinking.” What part of your vows stated you’d read each other’s minds for as long as you both shall live? I’m guessing that wasn’t part of the ceremony.

Stop sitting back waiting for your spouse to pick up on the fact that you’re frustrated, ticked off, hurt, or lonely and speak up. Two things will happen. One, you will grow up a bit more because you’ve taken charge of your thoughts and emotions and two, your partner will grow up because you’re treating them like an adult who’s capable of handling your thoughts and emotions.

2. Make the obvious, obvious.

If you’ve had a stressful day at work, when you come home you know it’s likely to be stressful there as well, right? So rather than letting the elephant in the room (the stress level in your life) walk around freely, point it out before you and your spouse get in to it.

A simple, “Hey honey, good to see you, (kiss), I’d like about 5 minutes to decompress from my day before I hear about your day, alright?”

Another way to make the obvious obvious is when the discussion starts to get heated, point it out. When you raise your voice in a conversation, it’s no longer about what’s best for all the people involved, it’s about your power and your pride.

3. Grow up.

Many people go kicking and screaming into adulthood. I was one of them. I wanted things my way! Still do at times.

I used to think that life was all about me. And problems occurred when other people didn’t know this.

Marriage grows you up. Living with another person forces you to grow up. And just when it seems your spouse is done growing you up, your kids take over. That’s a simple fact of marriage.

Recognize this and harness the energy it creates.

Rather than seeing your spouse as someone who doesn’t get you, see them as someone who may want more from you. They may be looking for an erotic lover, a passionate friend, a warrior, a true supporter, or simply a partner in life’s adventure.

via We have trouble communicating.

Communicating in Relationships

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Ah, not really.

Often it’s words – and the tone that comes with them – that actually do the most damage. Just think back on some of the things that have been said to you over the years – especially those said with criticism, derision, shaming, anger, rejection, or scorn – and the impacts they’ve had on your feelings, hopes and ambitions, and sense of yourself.

Words can hurt since the emotional pain networks in your brain overlap with physical pain networks. (The effects of this intertwining go both ways. For example, studies have shown that receiving social support reduces the perceived intensity of physical pain, and – remarkably – that giving people Tylenol reduced the unpleasantness of social rejection.)

Besides their momentary effects, these hurts can linger – even for a lifetime. The residues of hurtful words sift down into emotional memory to cast long shadows over the inner landscape of your mind.

Plus they can alter a relationship forever. Just think about the ripple effects of things said between parents and children, from one sibling to another, or among in-laws. Or between friends. For example, a good buddy once castigated me morally when we disagreed politically. We tried to talk it through, but the fact that he showed he could indeed go to that place led me to take a step a back; we’re still friends, but our relationship is smaller now since I steer clear of some major subjects.

So do what you can to protect yourself from hurtful words from others. Prevent them in the first place, if possible, by “talking about talking” with others (perhaps share the guidelines below). If that doesn’t work, try to see the underlying pain and needs that could have triggered them to “let ‘er rip,” put their words in perspective, turn toward resources in yourself and in your true friends, and shift the size or nature of the relationship if that’s appropriate (and possible).

And on your own side of the street – my subject in this JOT, because you have much more influence over yourself than you have over others – speak wisely.

How?

I’ve gotten a great deal of personal value from six guidelines offered 2500 years ago by the Buddha; you’ll recognize their essence – sometimes expressed in the same words – in other traditions or philosophies.

From this perspective, wise speech always has five characteristics. It is:

Well-intended – Comes from goodwill, not ill will; constructive; aimed to build up, not tear down

True – Not overstated, taken out of context, or blown-up out of proportion

Beneficial – Helps things get better, not worse (even if it takes a while)

Timely – Not driven by impulsivity; rests on a foundation that creates a good chance of it being truly heard

Not harsh – It could be firm, pointed, or intense; it could confront mistreatment or injustice; anger could be acknowledged; but it is not prosecutorial, nasty, inflammatory, dismissive, disdainful, or snarky.

And if possible, it is:

Wanted by the other person – If they don’t want to hear it, you may just not need to say it; but there will be other cases when you need to speak for yourself whether the other person likes it or not – and then it’s more likely to go well if you follow the first five guidelines.

Of course, there is a place for talking loosely with others when it’s comfortable to do so. And realistically, in the first moments of an argument, sometimes people stray out of bounds.

But in important, tricky, or delicate interactions – or as soon as realize you’ve gone over the line – then it’s time to communicate with care, and with wisdom. The six guidelines do not guarantee that the other person will respond the way you want. But they will raise the odds of a good outcome, plus you will know in your heart that you stayed in control of yourself, had good intentions, and have nothing to feel guilty about later.

Reflect on the six guidelines as you consider how to approach an important conversation. Then, be natural: if you simply speak from your heart, have good intentions, and keep returning to the truth as you know it, it is hard not to speak wisely! If things get heated, stay grounded in wise speech; be clear that how you speak your own responsibility, no matter what the other person does. If you stray from the guidelines, acknowledge that to yourself, and perhaps to the other person.

With time and a little practice, you will find yourself “speaking wisely” without consciously thinking about it. You might be amazed at the powerful, assertive ways you can communicate within the frame of the six guidelines; consider the well-known examples of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And – for a little bonus here – how about practicing wise speech in the way you talk to yourself?!

via The five principles of wise communication | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation.