What To Know Before Moving In With Your S.O. So There Are No Surprises

Now that the world is slowly starting to turn again, it might be safe to resume thinking about the next phases of our lives. Like, if the pandemic put your wedding on pause for a while, you may be starting to look into microweddings or other alternatives. Similarly, if coronavirus f*cked up your plans to move in with your S.O., now that spring has come and gone, it may be time to start thinking about that again (just be warned that working from home with them for months on end might result in a literal crime scene). It’s exciting to be able to take those big steps with your S.O., but before you take the plunge, there are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to cohabitation. We spoke with Leslie Montanile, an N.Y.C-based divorce attorney, to discuss how to successfully move in with your S.O. and the many benefits of living together before saying “I do.”

Blending Lifestyles

When you move in with your S.O. before you tie the knot, you get to know all of their daily habits and quirks, which is a huge bonus when preparing for newlywed life, according to Montanile. While you might think that your partner is crushing #adulting prior to moving in together, you may quickly find out that Brad isn’t actually the neat freak you thought he was, but was just shoving his dirty laundry in the closet before you came over. However, says Montanile, “the good news is that you can find a middle ground by blending your differences so that both of you are comfortable in your new arrangement, making adjustments before taking that trip down the aisle.” Just like you learned in kindergarten, sometimes you have to compromise.

Growing Pains

Although moving in together can bring couples closer, don’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows from the moment you move in. Most couples will likely argue during the adjustment phase, especially when it comes to personal space and living habits. Since friction is totally natural when you and your partner have differences about, like, the A.C. temperature, Montanile suggests finding “a solution to your differences that are creating friction in the first place.” This can actually be super healthy for your relationship, Montanile says, since “You can be secure knowing that arguments during the adjustment period do not mean you are not compatible—in fact, it means you care enough about your partner to express your frustration or discontent at the moment and are not afraid to show how you are feeling.” Eventually, your lifestyles will meld together, and you can get back to your mushy couple stuff (gag).

Come As You Are

Initially, giving up your personal space and private time can make you especially pissy towards your partner—being hypercritical, starting fights about what you should order for dinner, sh*t like that—or it can even make you question the entire decision to move in together. Before you commit to living together, Montanile advises sitting down “to discuss what is important to you to keep as part of your new life together. Whether it is a weekly date with your friends, yoga, cooking class, golfing on the weekend, etc., these are the activities that made you and your partner happy before moving in together and should not suddenly cease.” After all, no one wants to be that girl whose only personality trait is being Josh’s girlfriend. Since you fell in love with your partner as a unique individual, “maintaining some of that individuality keeps your romance alive,” Montanile explains.

Making Money Moves

Talking about money can be awkward, but it’s necessary to discuss when moving in with your S.O. When you began dating, you might have followed a set spending pattern, like taking turns paying for dates or having the partner with the higher salary treating the other, but there are even more financial factors to consider when combining households. Montanile advises couples to “discuss their budgets and spending habits before moving in with each other so that there are no surprises.” While it’s not the sexiest conversation, “Deciding how you will handle the newly joint expenses upfront will take the stress off the relationship right from the start to concentrate on the fun new adventure of living with the one you love.” For example, you could both agree on a bill-splitting app to use or create a shared spreadsheet to track expenses, then you can move on to the fun stuff, like attempting to put your IKEA bookshelf together.

Happily Ever After

While you may want to jump straight into wedding planning the minute you’ve posted your “He put a ring on it!” Instagram, there are literally so many perks to living together first. After all, remarks Montanile, “it is a big deal to move in with someone no matter how much you love them and want to be with them.” Basically, it’s like getting to know each other all over again, except in an up-close way and in your shared space, instead of over Tinder. So, it’s not uncommon for your S.O. to act a little differently after move-in day, Montanile says. “Perhaps you find that your partner is quieter than usual—realize that when you are with someone all the time, you will learn that they are not always ‘on’ as if you were dating. Everyone has downtime or up time that you do not see when you are not living together.” You shouldn’t worry too much, though, because your partner is prob just adjusting to not having their own space anymore, which can cause them to behave a little differently until they become comfortable in your new, combined abode. At the end of the day, all of the ~struggles~ of moving in together are so worth it, since they’re all part of creating a grown-up, happy, and lifelong relationship.

For more insight on love and law, visit Leslie Montanile’s website.

Images: Cottonbro / Pexels; Giphy (2)

How To Work From Home With Your SO Without Killing Them

As an increasing number of establishments close their doors and ask their employees to work from home due to coronavirus, more and more couples are faced with the age-old question: How TF do we both work from home without killing each other? Between different hours, different work styles, and different preferences when it comes to things like having music on or talking on the phone in the living room, it’s enough to put a strain on even the most steadfast of couples.

So, how the hell do I know this? For the past year, my husband and I have both worked from home. At first, it was in our 2-bedroom apartment in Austin, then it was in a 400-square-foot studio apartment (with two human-sized dogs mixed in, I might add). Now, thankfully, it’s in our 3-bedroom home. The point is, we’ve had to learn how to adjust to each other’s schedules, respect boundaries when we were literally working on top of each other, and manage to get through the workweek without breaking up and/or murdering one another. It takes a little work, but once you get it down, you’ll be able to blissfully refresh your email while watching Netflix get your work done mere feet from your love and be as productive as ever. 

Here’s how you work from home without killing each other, and actually getting work done.

the office work from home

1. Know Each Other’s Schedules

Maybe he’s working a 9am-5pm and you’re working a 2pm-10pm. Odds are you know each other’s schedules already, but just in case, fill your new coworker in on your hours. Do you have a meeting every Monday at noon? Are you allowed to sign off early on Fridays? Are mornings hectic and afternoons slow? Whether you debrief each other on a daily or weekly basis, knowing when you can and can’t interrupt the other is key to making all of this work. My tip? Before an important meeting, call, or assignment that you need full attention for, let the other know. They don’t want to f*ck with your career, but we’re all bored as sh*t and need some human interaction. Communicate when you will be actually busy so this co-working relationship doesn’t turn into the quarantined breakup from hell.

2. Make A Big Deal Out Of Meetings

I can’t stress this enough. When it’s time to actually like, work (i.e. you have a call with your boss or a meeting with someone), tell your SO a few times and ask for what you need. Do you need him/her to not come into the room? Do you need absolute silence? A few minutes before something big. remind your partner that you’re going to be busy for an estimated amount of time, and tell them what you need to succeed. If they don’t know, they can’t help you. But by laying down what you need and reminding them right before, it helps even the most forgetful partner give you the time and space you need. It’s the mantra of relationships: They can’t read your mind. Speak up and ask them to do the same.

3. Have Your Own Space

Someone gets the office, someone gets the bedroom. If that doesn’t work, someone gets the couch and someone gets the table. Maybe you switch it up daily or maybe you agree on these spaces and stick with them. Either way, designate work areas for each of you that are SPECIFICALLY your spots. This is where your work computer, your chargers, and your daytime snacks go. By having an area to call your own, it’s easier for the other person to tell you’re in work mode when you’re sitting at the desk versus when you’re walking around the kitchen on your phone. Plus, it will make after-hours relaxing easier if you don’t mix your “workspace” with your “lounge space.”

Pro tip: If you’re low on space, something as simple as sitting on the other end of the couch during work hours can make all the difference.

4. Utilize Doors And Headphones

Doors! They’re amazing. And headphones? They’re like doors for your ears! If you look at other “how to work from home” posts, one thing they all say is “pretend your SO isn’t there.” Which is, in my non-professional opinion, bullsh*t. First of all, one of the very few perks of this sh*tty and devastating pandemic is the fact that we not only get to work from home, but we (hopefully) get to spend some extra time with the people we love. It’s like college all over again when you’d sit in his bed doing your online Spanish class, except this time you’re getting paid and your livelihood is on the line.

Anyway, the point being, pretending the other person isn’t there is not only depressing, but it’s pointless. What isn’t pointless is using physical boundaries that the other person knows to indicate that now is not the time to hang out. For him? It’s the office door. For me? It’s headphones. If his door is closed or my headphones are in, we both know that the other is in the middle of some sh*t and to only interrupt if there’s an emergency, like another celebrity tests positive for COVID-19 or we’re officially out of toilet paper. By having something tangible that the other person can see, it makes them stop in their tracks and take a moment to decide if this is something they NEED to tell you this minute, or if it can wait until you go back to slacking off.

5. Find Your Focus

It’s easy to blame your SO for distracting you when the work day comes to an end and you realize you didn’t get everything done. If they didn’t keep walking into the room, kissing you and telling you how beautiful you looked in your old sorority tee and sporting a 5-days-since-washed pony, you might actually have gotten things done. Right? In reality, the first thing you need to realize working from home is how you work best. When are you most productive? Do interruptions completely ruin your flow or do you like having some random distractions? If your partner wants to chat, are you cool with them coming in and talking or would you prefer for them to wait and talk during designated breaks? Figure out how you work best then communicate that with your partner so you can both get your sh*t done in as little time as possible and bust open your end-of-the-day pandemic wine a little bit early.

6. Stick To Your Boundaries And Show The Same Respect You Would To Other Coworkers

If you need an hour in the morning to be alone with your coffee and misery, make that clear. If you like watching TV while you answer emails and don’t want to be disturbed while Ian Somerhalder is on-screen, mention that. Make very clear expectations of what you need to succeed and listen as your partner does the same. Respect what each other is asking (unless it’s something that hurts you or upsets you, in which case, talk about it) and gently enforce your boundaries if they forget or start to overstep.

Speaking of respect, even though you’ve seen this person naked and you pretty much, if not actually, live together, you still need to treat them like they’re one of your coworkers. Meaning, you have to respect each other’s time and space. While you might have a light workday and are able to get chores done and vacuum the entire house, he or she might not be able to drop everything to help you hang up those photos you’ve been meaning to display for the past year. Think of work hours as morphing your relationship for a bit. Yes, your person is there but no, you can’t demand their undivided attention like you normally can. Keep that in mind and read the vibes if he/she doesn’t seem as into slacking off as you are.

7. Take Breaks Together And Separately

One of the major perks of working from home is the breaks. Without your boss physically panting down your neck, you have the ability to get your work done and actually f*cking breathe. While it can be super easy to get honed into your computer, being hunched over your laptop while perched on your old sofa for nine hours straight isn’t great. Now you can actually take breaks without feeling guilty. During the day, take some breaks alone but also carve out a few you can take together. Whether that means sitting outside to eat lunch, folding laundry, or just sitting and talking over a homemade cup of coffee (ugh), having some time to chill out during the day together will not only make the workday go faster, but it will make you feel more connected.

Kelly and Ryan the office

8. Enjoy The Extra Moments Together

As much as I like to complain, working from home together is seriously the best, once you iron out the kinks. You get to have breakfast (or at least some coffee together), you can take a lunch break at the same time, and instead of sending each other memes throughout the day, you can talk face to face and/or make out. While yeah, it can be distracting to be around your SO all day, once you get your boundaries up and keep a line of communication open, enjoy it! Not only that, but make it truly special. Something I love about both of us being home for work is the extra opportunities we get to do lovey things. Kisses in the kitchen, a refill on coffee without asking, a surprise sandwich at lunch—little ways to show you care that you don’t normally get to do when you’re both at separate offices. Sure, there are more chances to get annoyed and underfoot, but there are also a lot more opportunities to make sweet memories and have fun during the weekday together.

9. Make Sure You Both Understand Where Sex Stands

For some, working from home together means more opportunities to get it on. For others, it means awkward moments where you’re trying to answer emails and he’s sucking on your neck. There’s no right or wrong answer here. You will have more chances to have sex, which is great if mornings aren’t for you, or by the time evening comes around you’re too exhausted to move. A little afternoon delight might just be your saving grace. If, however, you’d like to stick to a traditional schedule and hold off on sex stuff until outside of work hours, make that clear from the first turned-down initiation. Not only will it eliminate any additional sexually-charged stress, but you’ll both know where you’re at and have something to look forward to when you both finally shut down your laptops.

10. Have Some Clocked Out Time Together

One of the hardest parts about working from home together is still taking time to be with each other. It’s weird, because you’re under the same roof all day, eating the same lunch and grunting at each other when you refill your coffee cups, but you’re not actually spending tons of quality time together. Instead, make sure to still set aside some date time after or before work, just like you would normally do. Spending that extra passive time working together, while great, isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. Whether it’s a movie night, a picnic in your backyard, or making the most of your lack of commute and taking shots the second the clock hits 5pm, there are plenty of ways to have fun, be productive, and keep each other (as well as the rest of the world) safe.

Images: VGstockstudio / Shutterstock.com; Giphy (3)