OPEN UP: Moving In With a Significant Other
Ah, so this has been an OPEN UP topic that I’ve been putting off for a while! I’m well aware that people have so many different opinions on moving in together, and I’ve been a bit hesitant to post because I’m pretty frightened that I’ll HEAR all of those different opinions (yikes).
Before I begin, let’s lay the foundation for respect (please) within this post.
I’m not claiming that my way is RIGHT, and I’m not claiming that anyone else’s way is WRONG. Instead, we’re having open, normal conversation about what ACTUALY happened when I moved in with Marco, and how we actually felt – simply the reality of it all.
I want you girls to have someone to relate to, and what I found is that not enough conversation happens on how tough this topic can feel when you’re in the midst of it – people only talk about the practicalities of living together (which is great, but more convo is needed).
So, let’s dive in and have some honest, real-life, no-one-is right-or-wrong, here’s-what-happened, kind of talk…
Before Marco and I moved in together, there was SO MUCH fear in my heart. We considered moving in together for about a year before we actually did it.
Let’s just say, arguing happened on our part. Marco didn’t see anything wrong with it, and I saw everything other people were going to say as disastrous. I was so concerned with what people would think, even though some of the most important people in my life were telling me it was okay.
Marco and I were engaged, I wanted to get out of my parents house (I needed space, I was starting my own business, and I needed a quiet place to work), and I wanted to take care of myself.
When I finally moved out, I went on my own. I got myself a little studio, and I worked crazy hours to pay for it. I was just starting my health coaching business (crazy to think how many women I’ve helped now), had a handful of wonderful clients, and nannied 72 hours a week to support myself.
I loved that little studio. That place was my pride and joy. I’m so glad I moved on my own first. I learned to appreciate everything a little bit more in the time that I lived there (like, when mom bought me shampoo, I praised her on my hands and knees for being so generous).
Around the same time I got my studio, Marco and I started months of super intense pre-marital counseling with a marriage and family therapist. I remember going into this thinking “eh, MAYBE I have some stuff to clear up… but really, we’re good.”
Was I wrong…
Marco and I ended up having so much to work through. We worked at our counseling, week after week, sifting through all of the underlying, passive ways we would communicate with each other. We got really clear, and really honest. We shared fears, values, and visions for our futures.
More than anything, we learned how to understand one another, and make sense of our actions (regardless of what we thought of them).
Counseling changed my life, and I didn’t even know I needed it.
About 6 months after I’d moved out on my own, as we were still working with our counselor, we brought up the idea of moving in together. It had been nine months since the engagement, we were feeling ready, and not to mention, I was scrapping up pennies to support myself.
A studio in CA is not cheap.
More than anything though, I wanted to start a life with Marco.
Our counselor asked us to each write a PRO’s and CON’s list so he could see where each of our hearts were at in this.
I remember my PRO’s and CON’s list like a picture on the wall. On the left side, the PRO’s. Two pages full of reasons why moving in together felt like a good idea. On the right side, the CON (singular).
ONE reason why moving in together felt scary: What would other people think of me?
So, we made the choice to move in together that July, because we realized that NOT doing so purely because the fear of what other people would think wasn’t right for us.
Once you’re in a committed relationship, learning to make decisions between the TWO of you is vital (especially when you’re planning a wedding, because you’ll learn that everyone and their moms – literally – will have an opinion).
After a two week vacation with family, we were packing up my studio and moving it to our first one bedroom. Little by little we shared our news, and to my surprise (not Marco’s) no one hated us for it.
Moving in together, for Marco and I was, was the best feeling in the world. Setting up our first home, getting new furniture, laying on the floor of our apartment, making plans, and doing life together… it all felt like such a new adventure, and we were growing together.
Coming home to Marco felt so nice. No more calling between my crazy work schedule and “fitting in” when we could hangout.
We were a team, more than ever.
We cooked together, made plans together, and learned to navigate carving in enough “me-time” while sharing the same space.
From the time we lived together, well until after we were married, Marco worked nights 6-7 days a week and our schedules were flopped, so me-time wasn’t hard to come by. Finding your own me-time and time with friends is so important.
The hardest part of living together, for me, was someone else being involved in my finances. It felt WEIRD. My spending habits changed, for the first time, because it was no longer just me I was caring for. I had to consider the other person.
However, it wasn’t a bad thing. Looking at this from afar, I realize that considering someone else in my spending helped me to spend so much smarter.
Here’s a little bit on that, and what budgeting has given to us…
After 1,000 sticky notes, checks, and IOU’s to split everything 50/50, Marco and I decided to combine our finances (we did this because we knew we were getting married – it felt less risky). Before we did so, we went to a financial workshop together, to get on the exact same page about money.
This workshop taught us SO much. It taught us to save, to budget, and to not spend more, the more we made.
Instead, save more the more you make, and splurge when it’s worth it (with your own money, and not credit).
Budgeting has allowed us to save more than I’d ever saved, pay for our part of our wedding in cash, pay for our new cars in cash, go on trips when we’d like, have enough for me to hire my own coach, and for each of us to invest in the most important things.
Sure, it takes discipline everyday, and we save more than I ever thought necessary, but there is so much freedom in it. What I’ve found is that financial discipline = financial freedom, and the discipline is way easier when you change your mindset about it.
Example: Change “I can’t go shopping for new clothes” to “Will buying ANOTHER new item really make me that much happier? How long will that feeling last? Could I do something else to feel more joyful right now?”
I recommend Dave Ramsey if you’re looking to budget, and I also help my own clients with budgeting when they request it. I would be more than happy to book a one-off laser focused session if you’d like to talk about budgeting (I am not a financial adviser, but come from experience).
Looking back, now being married for almost two years to this man, I could not be happier that we lived together first. Now, I will say, there were certain boundaries that I had to hold to feel okay with it (everyone has their own boundaries), but with those held dear, I loved it.
I will also say, that had I made this same choice to move in with other boyfriends, I would would be bummed. I’m glad that Marco is the only man I’ve lived with (had I made a PRO’s/CON’s list with the other people I’m thinking of, I would’ve had plenty of CON’s to stop me).
Plus, as my counselor shared with me “you don’t need to worry about making the wrong choice [my biggest fear] because right now, it’s the right choice, and you can never take that away.”
So, all in all, what was scary was what others would think. What helped was working with a counselor, and making the best choice for US. What I would tell my own daughter, is to do the exact same thing. To think about it before she made the move, to do the work, and to consider the possibilities. I would also want her to check in with any boundaries she needed to have, and make sure those were fully, 100% understood and respected beforehand.
I hope that this post helped you to relate… Now, I want to hear from you… Have you moved in with a significant other before? What was that like for you? Did you have a good experience? How about a hard one? I want to hear from you below!