I’m no relationship guru by any stretch of the imagination but rather a regular girl who’s compiled a list of seven savvy tips for keeping cohabitation with my significant other light-hearted and fun.
Generally speaking, we find a positive correlation between length of relationship and the more serious it becomes. Somehow time makes us prioritise other things over fun, laughter, and dreams, and we wind up bitter, resentful, and neglected before we know it. This isn’t necessarily across the board – it hasn’t been in my relationship, for example – but it is possible that as the two of you sink into routines, you will edge further and further away from those spontaneous little moments that you had when you initially kindled your romance.
Living together has been a whimsical journey, but it has also been eye-opening and challenging. It has shined a light on each of our strengths and weaknesses, bad habits and destructive behaviours but also allowed us to gain a new kind of closeness that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Every couple is unique, but I’ve got seven solid tips for you today that can give you a strong foundation upon which to build a dream life together. Just like a pizza: if the base is good, you don’t have to worry about much else.
7 Tips for Living Together Happily
1. Spend quality time together 1 or 2 nights a week. When we first decided to share our space, we were worried we might get bored with seeing each other so much, but in fact the opposite occurred. We fell into the trap of co-existing without spending any quality time together. We’d return from work, eat dinner at the same time and then part ways, us each working or studying solo for the duration of the evening. By the time we’d climb into bed, all energy had been sapped, and we realized we were never getting the best of each other. Now, we make it a point to put work aside a couple nights a week and linger at the table after dinner, prioritising catching up on life.
2. Monthly dining indulgence. Before we lived under the same roof, our date nights would often revolve around cooking for one another or going out for a bite to eat. While it’s great to have our own kitchen now, we still make a point to indulge once a month by planning an evening out at a favourite or new restaurant and treating ourselves to some delicious food and ambience.
3. Alternate cooking for each other throughout the work week. After a long day, coming home to dinner ready and waiting is like a warm embrace. Cooking for your partner infuses your meal with love and care, and there’s no simpler way to spark a smile or appreciation than to help each other out.
4. Keep communal areas clean. It is inevitable that you will get, ahem, closer when living together; It’s a lot less difficult to hide bad habits! But while you should, of course, be able to feel at home, we make it paramount in our house to keep joint areas like the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room clean. The dining room is pretty much mine, stacked with notes and books for working, and Jonny has his music room filled with his medley of instruments. In these spaces, we know we can delve into our own realms and be free to live how we want. But in the joint areas, we maintain strict no-clutter and no-dirt policies. If you live dirty, you feel dirty, and for us, we are both in the best head space when we are keeping on top of the chores. This translates into our relationship. I mean, think about it; it’s not particularly alluring cooking up a romantic meal together in a crusty kitchen, is it? Or climbing into a bed piled up with clothes, food wrappers and whatever else!
5. Treat each other to little simple things you know will be loved. Once you live under the same roof, you’re both involved with the bills, the necessities, and the chores. Treating each other to little surprises reminds one another that you care. This can be a funny note, a baked good, a plant, or whatever brings an instant smile on your partner’s face. It doesn’t have to cost a penny, and it can still be heartfelt.
6. Have a joint pot of money for shared resources and share the job of doing them. While talking money is anything but sexy, being respectful of each other’s resources is. There is nothing worse than feeling that you’ve been taken for a ride, so it’s important from the get-go that you’re on the same page. Split your bills in a way that both parties are happy with, and have a shared pot for food money. Set a budget and stick to it, saving the need for any disagreements or hard feelings. We’ve also found that it works best when we both split the food shopping; this way it feels as though both of you are getting to make choices about what to eat. It’s a simple thing that makes a big difference.
7. Have monthly reviews. We joked about having a monthly review around about 30 days after we moved in but actually found it to be really useful. It gave us a chance to reflect on what we had enjoyed for the previous month, as well as any concerns that had been brought up and were worrying either of us. We now find it really easy to express how we’re feeling about things, remembering the importance of affirming positive experiences to the other party as well as being honest about what isn’t making us so happy. Practicing this each month makes it easier to be comfortable with being open and honest without sparking conflict.
Let me know what you do to cultivate joy in your home. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or an apartment shared with a friend, what have you found works best for you?
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Photos: Josh Felise via Unsplash