moving in together

One of the biggest decisions in any relationship is figuring out when moving in together is a good idea. There are lots of questions to consider before taking that huge step. Should you just wait until marriage? How do you know when it's right? What if your partner is way more gross than they've led you to believe? Decades ago, it wasn't all that common for couples to live together before marriage but that's changed. In the last 50 years, cohabitation between non-married couples has increased nearly 900 percent. It's almost expected for couples to move in together these days. After all, it's hard to commit to spending your life with someone if you don't know if they're capable of washing their own dishes.

After you've made that all-important decision to move in together, you're going to find that things aren't exactly the same as they were when you were just dating. If you're having a bad day together, you can't just go home. You are home. There's no escape hatch after you've moved in together.

If you follow some easy rules, though, you'll find that moving in together is amazing and you'll be one step closer to going ring shopping.

Rule #1: Communicate at all times.

This should be a rule for any relationship, no matter what your living status is. The key to making it work after you've moved in is to discuss things everything. Both parties should get an equal say. It's no longer “my place/your place,” it's “our place” and that means you should try to come to a consensus on (almost) every decision. If something's bothering you, don't bottle it up. Talk about it. There's nothing worse than holding a grudge around somebody you see from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep. Make communication the focal point of your relationship and moving in together will be a breeze. Ask yourself this: if you can't communicate now, how will you both handle things once you're married?

Rule #2: Give in.

It's incredibly hard to go from living by yourself or with roommates to living with a significant other. Learn very quickly which battles are worth fighting or you'll be back to living alone very quickly. Remind yourself that it's okay to give in when you're having a disagreement. It's not a loss, it's a move towards peace. When you give in, you're telling your partner that you respect their desires even more than your own. That's gold for any relationship.

Rule #3: Set expectations.

In the first weeks of moving in together, it may be so exciting that you don't have to meet up somewhere or bring a sleepover bag that you'll forget to acknowledge this as a huge new step. Take some time to sit down together and discuss what you expect from each other. Who's doing the laundry? How will it feel if your partner is out with their friends almost every night? Who gets to decide what's for dinner? If you have a good solid talk up front, you're laying the groundwork for having good solid talks about everything in the future (see Rule #1). This doesn't mean you have to decide everything right away. It just means that you're comfortable setting expectations with each other.

Rule #4: Buy some new stuff.

This depends a lot on your financial situation together, but investing in (or registering for!) some shared possessions will make your new place feel like it belongs to both of you (even if one of you had already been living there). The flip side of this is getting rid of things you may have shared with *ahem* somebody else. Moving in together is the first step of starting a new life as a couple. Try to avoid including reminders of the time you spent with someone else.

Rule #5: It's okay to fart in front of each other.

It just is. Whether you want to go even further and have an open bathroom door policy is up to you. Once you move in together, the days of holding it in are gone. Actually, that's one of the best parts of moving in together! You get to be your true authentic self at all times.