Tips for Moving in Together and Combining two Households
Moving in together is rough, y’all. Whether you are purchasing a new home with your partner or moving into one or the other’s home, having to combine households into one can be a night mare. Especially if you are having to combine households that have already been established. Like Leslie and me. Take it from me, friends.. Learn from my mistakes.
1. Make sure you are both ready
I know this probably goes without saying, but make sure you are both 100% on board. If you’ve got hesitations, you’ve got to talk it through with your partner. It is so important.
Leslie and I, in true lesbian fashion, called that U-Haul waaaaay sooner than we probably should have. Our circumstances at the time sort of rushed it for us so when it was time for the actual merging, we were 100% unprepared.
I have crippling anxiety. That is no secret and Leslie knew that. I also have this huge fear of telling people no. So, when Leslie called me while I was at work and asked me to move in, my coworkers overheard and were all for it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was stoked, too. But I was terrified. I talked it over with everyone about 100,000 times and jumped in.
This decision was the right one for us, but it is a big decision. Make sure you are both ready. It isn’t just living together. It is spending every waking second with this other person. Your free home time is now spent with them. For Leslie and me, that is fine. We are glued at the hip but you have to remember, you won’t be getting your quiet morning coffee time unless you wake up at 4am on your off days. Not that I do that.. but I totally do that.
2. Have a Pet Plan
I can’t stress this point enough. Have a pet plan in place before making the move. Have your pets met, yet? Do they get along? Have they spent nights together? Have they eaten together?
Guys, before you can combine households that have furry beings in it, you’ve got to make sure they can co-exist. Learn from my mistakes, please. Mila and Cocoa fight all of the time. Cocoa hides under the dining room table most of the time because Mila will seek her out to attack her.
This is still happening almost three years later. We didn’t properly introduce them like we should have. Instead, I brought them over to Leslie’s house and we just went with it. Now they hate each other and Mila is on meds.
Learn Their Individual Personalities and Introduce Accordingly.
Cocoa and Mila are both dominant in nature and neither will give up that Alpha status. This is Mila’s house and she would very much like us to leave, please.
Mila and Lily don’t fight because Lily is submissive. There was one incident where Mila snapped at her and Lily pretended to have a broken back and we all panicked and the house went up in flames and then Lily just casually walked away completely fine. Mila hasn’t messed with her, since.
Mila and Cocoa just can’t seem to get along. The fault is 100% mine. So please, do it the proper way. I don’t want to give dog training advice because I am totally not qualified, so instead, I will direct you to my favorite dog trainer that I follow on TikTok. I wish I had found her before we moved in together.
3. The power of the purge
Ya’ll, purging and decluttering is hard. For me it is, at least. When Leslie and I decided to move in together we both had homes that were fully established. We were now faced with having to combine the two and decide what goes and what stays.
Before the actual move, I had to go through things like my closet and my cabinets and purge the obvious things that were trash. Doing this made it easier to pack up the things I needed to bring over because there was significantly less “stuff” to pack.
I still ended with truck load after truck load of things to bring, but purging beforehand helped a lot. The thing I regret is not purging even further than I did. But at the time, I wasn’t emotionally ready to do it.
Two Types of People
Now, there are two types of people. The type that has things but isn’t emotionally attached to any of it, or very few items. Then the there is the type that is emotionally attached to a lot of it or everything, in my case.
I grew up in a household that was cluttered floor to ceiling. My mom kept absolutely everything that had a memory attached to it and my dad kept everything that he thought could be useful in some way. The two never could see eye to eye.
My dad was convinced that my mom’s items were trash that should be thrown out and my mom was convinced that my dad’s items were all trash that should be thrown out. They could never come to a compromise, therefore, nothing was ever decluttered or purged.
Sometimes Keeping Things is all we Know
When these types of personalities raise children, they tend to teach their children that their way is the only way. You know what I mean.
So in my case, as a kid, if I wanted to get rid of a stuffed animal, my mom would remind me that so and so gave it to me and paid this much for it so I shouldn’t give it away. If I wanted to get rid of an item that was broken, my dad would remind me that he could fix it and we could repurpose it to use as XYZ. So hearing these things over and over really impacted the way I view items.
Growing up this way, I believe, is why clutter gives me so much anxiety. It is why I feel like I can’t breathe in a space that has too much stuff. It is also the reason I have too much stuff, causing me the anxiety. I want to get rid of the items, but it sends me into a panic trying to get rid of it. It’s a vicious cycle.
It took a while and honestly, it is still a work in progress two and a half years later. I still have to purge things. But I have to do it slowly and do as much as I can emotionally handle at one time.
4. Respect your partner’s need to keep something
Now Leslie didn’t have that much stuff. She had the necessities and the things that she really loves. Like her books, a couple memory items and her hobby things. Yet, her little bit of stuff and my whole lot of stuff still had the same issue attached to it- we wanted to keep it all.
Thank God Leslie was patient with me. She may not have understood my need to keep so much stuff, but she didn’t argue and force me to get rid of things. Instead we compromised. We both purged things that we didn’t actually need anymore. I, obviously, tossed more things than her, but only because I had more things. She cleared me off some shelves for my pictures and books and gave me some cabinet space under the book shelves. She didn’t argue when I brought an actual room full of my moms Christmas decorations over. We made do.
She respected my irrational needs to keep papers and CD’s and for that, I will forever be thankful to her. She doesn’t understand my attachment but she respected it.
In doing so, I didn’t feel pressured to throw all my beloved things away. I never felt the need to get defensive and hide more things. Which, if you suffer with these issues, you understand the need to hide the items you can’t let go of.
Instead, I was able to take a good look at my items and purge and declutter at my own pace. I may not clear out an entire cabinet, but taking out a layer at a time makes a huge difference. I can condense these spaces and one day I’ll have that empty cabinet. It just takes time, and that is okay.
Now, if you are the partner that doesn’t understand the need to keep things and wants your partner to purge everything, I beg you, talk to them gently about it. The more heated the conversation gets, the least likely your partner will be willing to let their items go.
I promise you, your partner knows how irrational their brain is concerning the clutter. He/she likely wants to be like you and be capable of letting things go, it just causes such an emotional response that we shut down and can’t do it.
Have the talk and work with your partner at a speed the one with the things can handle. Otherwise, the situation will get worse and resentment will start before you’ve even moved in together.
5. Donate duplicate items
You don’t need two coffee pots. You don’t need two coffee pots. You don’t need two coffee pots..
Guys, you don’t need two coffee pots. You don’t need to keep that second coffee pot as a spare. I know you feel like you need to because coffee may be your lifeline, like me, but you don’t need two coffee pots.
If your coffee pot breaks at 9pm on a Sunday night, which probably won’t happen, stop and grab your coffee on the way to work one time and then pick up that $10 coffee pot at the dollar general on your way home. Replace it with a good one when you have the money.
The dollar general coffee pot works just like that spare you have. The spare that is taking up so much room in your cabinet. Room that could be used to store something you actually use.
I wish someone had told me this before because I would have tossed my spare coffee pot before I moved in. Hell, I would have tossed it years ago.
I know some of you might not have $10 to spare on a coffee pot. So why not, instead, start saving a dollar here and there until you get the $10 and then place that $10 in the space that you have the spare coffee pot, this way, in the case of an emergency, you have the money and you never gave up valuable space.
This doesn’t just pertain to coffee pots. This is about everything. When you combine households, you end up with duplicates of nearly everything.
I want to emphasize here, that sometimes giving up a duplicate of something, like silverware or Tupperware, is hard. Even though I knew I was happy to move in with Leslie, I had a nagging anxious little Candace in the back of my head saying, “No, keep this. You’ll need it if you split up.” That was the “I could use this one day” mentality that had been ingrained into me. I had to work very hard to shut her up.
In the end, we did end up keeping both sets of silverware, but we reduced our Tupperware, pots, vacuum cleaners (hi, you don’t need two vacuum cleaners.), cleaning products, etc. If someone has an emotional attachment to their plates but the other doesn’t, keep the emotional plates. Remember, respect your partners need to keep something, even if it doesn’t make sense to you.
NOW, I want you to know it is okay to keep two of something if neither of you want to let it go. Like, a hair straightener or blow dryers. Maybe an Iron if you’re one of those people. Don’t feel like you have to get rid of your favorite thing just because your partner has one, too. If you have the space- keep it.
6. Don’t Declutter Your Partner’s Things
We all have feelings about our things. Like mentioned earlier, some of us have an emotional attachment to a lot of things and some of us don’t at all. Regardless, respect your partners feelings and items and do not, by any circumstance, declutter your partners things without their permission.
Here is an example- Leslie has this yellow lumpy dirty old pillow sitting at the bottom of her closet. She doesn’t use it. It just sits on the floor of her closet. To me, I think, “Why do we need this? We aren’t using it and its nasty.” and typically, if it were mine, I would toss it.
Now if I were to toss it, Leslie would be devastated because that yellow lumpy dirty old pillow was her daddy’s pillow. She lost her daddy in 2013. She doesn’t use this pillow, but it has an emotional attachment to it and she is unwilling to let it go. And that’s OKAY.
I wouldn’t have known about that pillow unless I had asked her. Now that I know, I’m not going to push her to toss it, since it is just a pillow. The pillow stays where she wants it just as she had it before I moved in.
You need to declutter your things and leave your partners things to you partner. I can’t stress that enough. If Leslie went through my things to toss them out because they seemed meaningless to her, I would be hurt and there is that resentment.
Instead, when it comes to decluttering, go ahead and plan to do it at the same time. If you are working on a book shelf, your partner can work on a cabinet. Work together.
7. Be mindful of your partners needs
One thing I had to remember was that I was moving in with Leslie. I had my own routines in place and she had her own. We were now moving in together and had to coexist with both of our routines and needs.
So while I liked having my cooking utensils out in a utensil holder next to the stove, Leslie liked them in a drawer. So now the cooking utensils live in a drawer next to the stove. Compromise. Side note- I prefer them in the drawer now.
Some people are visual people and like to see their stuff out in the open and some people like it behind closed doors. Figure out how you can organize your things to fit the needs of both partners. Luckily for us, we like minimal visual stimulation. Clear counters.
The only thing we can’t seem to compromise on is the bathroom counter. Leslie likes all the things she uses daily, like her deodorant, hair product and face lotion, on the counter. I cannot fathom having a need to keep deodorant and things like that on the counter for everyone to see. Soap belongs there, only.
Her things stay put because she says that I can do anything to the rest of the house but the bathroom counter is out of the question and she’ll fight me if I move it. So. There is that. One day I’ll figure out a way to satisfy my visual needs and her need for convenience. But for now, she gets the bathroom counter.Leslie doesn’t have many things, but the things she has generally have a specific home and she has very strict routines. So her wicker baskets next to the fire place stay put in their exact location because that is what brings her visual comfort and my grandma’s porcelain cats can go on the book shelf in a very organized manner.
The wicker baskets are empty and useless to me and she probably hates my cats, but we give each other what we need.
You’ve got to remember that you guys decided to move in together to start a new life- together. The routines and habits you are used to will have to be adjusted to fit in the other person. You’ll have to create new routines that work for the both of you. Otherwise, you’ll clash. Leslie and I are so similar that we joke that we are the same person, but even our habits and routines are different. We’ve just had to learn to make adjustments.
8. My house. Your house. Our house.
This is important. Whether your partner is moving in with you, you are moving in with them, or you both are getting a new place together, you’ve got to remember that you are now a family in the same home. Saying things like “this is my house” or “this is your house” is hurtful and can bring about feelings of resentment.
Do your best to make the other person feel welcome and feel that this is now both of your home. It’s hard for me to accept that Leslie and I share the home we live in because I did not purchase the house and technically I still have another house that I am responsible for but I keep those feelings to myself, mostly. She is an angel and will correct me when I say things like “your house” because she wants Ember and me to feel like it is our house, too.
9. You are one
Once you make the decision to move in together, you guys become one household. Through a lot of work, sweat and tears, you will become the family that you envisioned. It takes time and patience but if it is right, it will be worth it.
The decision to move in together and combine households is the hard part. The rest of it is just a bit of work that you and your partner have to manage together.
With a little effort, though, you will get through it. Best of luck!