For many, domestic partnership is the next logical step in the relationship-growth path after the dating stage.
While it can be cohabitating bliss, it can also be a near disaster if you don't learn how to co-exist peacefully under the same roof. The 'little things' may seem small at first, but when repeated on a daily basis, frustrations like dishes in the sink can definitely exacerbate quickly.
Here are a few lessons I've learned (and am still learning) along the way to keep a functioning home and resultantly, a happy relationship.
Money Matters -- This uncomfortable conversation is one of the most important to have to discuss who puts in what, who takes care of bills, etc. There is no one solution -- you have to find what works for you. The system will also need revisiting and adjusting as careers and financial situations change.
Communication -- My friend Sunny recently told me, "You have to learn how to live, love and fight under one roof." When arguing, your first instinct may be to leave the nest and stay elsewhere, but taking off doesn't set a very good precedent in establishing a home with someone. Learning how to argue is important, and this may require laying down some house rules. Learning how to argue in a mature and non-destructive manner is something that usually takes time, since you have two completely different people with different styles and backgrounds. But it's a work in progress and one that hopefully through practice and creation of new habits, gets better with time.
Chores -- Instead of obsessively nagging your partner to do the dishes or make the weekend plans, determine the tasks in which you have a comparative advantage. If you're quick at doing the dishes and actually don't mind it, perhaps that's your task and your partner who loves making plans can be in charge of organizing dinner with the in-laws. Don't take it personally -- just get smarter and more efficient with the division of responsibility.
Staying Attractive --Sure, the courting phase is over, but living together is not a ticket to wear pajamas 24-7, talk in a baby voice or pack on the pounds. If you want the sparks to continue, make an effort in your appearance and hygiene.
Keeping Your Individuality -- Everyone needs his or her personal time. It may feel natural to do everything with your partner, but it's important to still have alone time with your friends and vice versa. Give each other the opportunity to miss each other.
Amy Chan is a relationship columnist. To read more of her blogs, visit www.amyfabulous.com