So you decided to move in together, things were going well, you were both excited, and you’ve had some great moments, but you’ve also had a lot of fights. It seems like every other week it’s something. Did you make a mistake to shack up? Not necessarily. Here are some reasons why your fighting might be natural, why you might not have too much to worry about, as long as you’re committed to working through it:
1. Compromise, Compromise, Compromise. If you’ve not shared an apartment with a Significant Other before, you’ve probably never had to compromise this much. All of a sudden, you’re dickering over when to go to bed, you’re expected to do your dishes immediately after dinner, you have tread quietly when 30 Rock is on, you have remember to pick up toiletries on the way home from work even though it doesn’t seem you need any, and you’re sometimes put on the horn with your Significant Other’s mother, just because you’re sitting in the same room. It’s a lot; it can be overwhelming, it can make anyone testy; all this compromise is bound to cause some conflict as you work through what issues are important to each of you, what issues aren’t, and how you’re going figure out a solution for these scenarios that works for both of you.
2. You have different styles of communication. And all of a sudden, you’re communicating with much greater frequency, and, since you live together, ignoring misunderstandings is no longer possible. Personally, I had this problem. My Significant Other was very direct about things that bothered her, to the point of seeming rude and inconsiderate. It made me angry. But I was very discreet and circumspect, to the point of not being understood – meaning she had no idea that I was even trying to express anything to her. But don’t fear: these things can change. Once you understand how the other communicates, you can both work to communicate and understand each other more effectively. It will be a process, but if you both dedicate yourself to it, things will get much, much better.
3. Commitment and Trust Issues. Lots of people have them. For some, moving in with someone is terrifying. It’s one step away from the dreaded M word. And that means people can act weird, they can sabotage a relationship: fights can materialize out of thin air. Insecurities and accusations can pop up that seem completely mystifying. It can be frightening. If this is a bug that’s in your relationship, talk about it. Bring it out in the open and discuss what type of commitment each of you is expecting, and how far along the relationship actually is. Often, the person with the commitment or trust issues is as bewildered by what is happening as you are. Many times, if both of you are patient and caring, these issues will work themselves out. Though, in some cases, a psychiatrist may help.
4. Inequalities. This can refer to a lot of things. Say one of you has a lot more money. Say one of you is recently unemployed, while the other just got a promotion. Say one of you is new to the area, while the other has a lot of friends nearby. Say one of you has plenty of free time to mingle with friends, while the other is pulling 60-hour work weeks. Say only one of you owns a car and uses it to get to work, while the other uses public transit. Any of these things could unsettle a relationship, particularly if they happened suddenly. By moving in together, you’re making all of them happen at once; they’re now an issue, now that you’re sharing so much space and time with each other. By talking through and understanding what these problems are, they can often be resolved.
Of course, these few categories don’t cover everything. But they are some of the most common fights, and some of the most-easily resolved. Just remember that yelling and stamping around only go so far; patience and listening often go much farther.
This is the third in our series of “moving in together” posts. We have covered the big decision and the heart-heart discussion to have before the move-in date. The final post, coming next week, will address how to handle things if moving in together did not work out.