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The first morning in our new apartment, Joe went out for bagels. We had been out late the night before and I had removed my contacts around 3 a.m. and thrown them on the bedroom floor. Groggily, I slumped out of bed and into the living room, fully knowing a bagel with a very heavy hand of cream cheese smear would make last night settle in my stomach and fade into a distant memory. Inside the bag, I found a small box, and in that small box, my engagement ring.

Joe and I knew we’d be engaged shortly after we moved in together. It was discussed, at length, even though at the time, we’d only be dating for a couple of months. That’s one of the reasons I knew he was “the one”—we both wore our hearts on our sleeve.

But this proved harder as life became more intertwined. And there’s no better way to make a relationship complicated than moving in together.

Don’t get me wrong—in some ways, it’s great! Saving money on rent AND living with the person you’re sleeping with? It’s a win-win.

That is until real life comes crashing into the bedroom door, and unfortunately, my sweet love birds, then it can be a real B.

I’ve found the old saying, ‘What you love about them now will drive you crazy later’ to be especially true as Joe and I turn the corner into our seventh year of marriage. What we have figured out is that these traits aren’t something to fear and avoid—they’re signals that we need to stay vigilant about communication.

I’ve found the old saying, “What you love about them now will drive you crazy later” to be especially true as Joe and I turn the corner into our seventh year of marriage. What we have figured out is that these traits aren’t something to fear and avoid—they’re signals that we need to stay vigilant about communication.

These questions are the ones we should ask before our relationships are unfolding over shared boxes and mismatched coffee cups. Over the debate on whether to hang that old poster from college or get rid of that sentimental chair.

They’re hard but necessary questions to ask yourself and your partner. Because while we all do our best to communicate, inevitably we all have blind spots. And it’s best to get everything out on the table before signing a lease together.

The first question is to ask WHY.

Is it because you live in an expensive city? Or because you think it’s the logical next step in your relationship? Could it hurt the relationship or help the relationship? Why would it strengthen your current relationship and do you have the same desired vision for the future of your relationship?

Discuss WHERE you’ll live.

Should you move into their place or yours? Or does it make sense to start fresh, free from ghosts of relationship’s past? Does it work for your commute or work from home situation? What is your ideal living space? What are the three things you both want your home to look and feel like? How will you handle decoration? Maintenance? Say you’re more of a Joanna Gaines and he has really strong opinions about displaying his shoe collection. WHO WINS? Or is it even worth fighting about it?

Get in the weeds about FINANCES.

How will shared expenses be handled? Will you have a joint savings account? Who will be responsible for paying bills? How will groceries and day-to-day expenses be handled? Will you each keep a checking account?

Be honest about your HABITS.

What are your pet peeves? What might trigger your partner about you? Are your sleeping habits compatible? How will moving in together change your sex life? How will you handle a slump in your intimacy? How much personal space do you need? Are you able to ask for “me” time? How clean are you? How clean are they?

Get real about CONFLICT.

What do you fight about now? What bothers you about the way you handle conflict? What happens if you dislike being in the same room after a fight? Do your fights usually result in you growing closer and moving past your issues? Is there a fight you have continually? Is it something that will be more of an issue by combining your living spaces and sharing expenses? Are you prepared to be very clear about issues upfront? Are they?

What are your DEAL BREAKERS?

Family dropping by unannounced? Late nights out with friends? Overspending? What about porn? Infidelity? Be sure to discuss dealbreakers that would have you looking for a new sublet.

Think WORST CASE SCENARIO.

What happens if you break up? How would you split up joint purchases? What about pets? Have you seen each other sick? Do you have any potential medical emergencies that you’ll need to assist in? What happens if one of you falls ill for a long period of time?

The thing I’m most proud of in my life is my marriage to Joe. We fight for its health and strength every day, and asking hard questions and being honest about our feelings—that’s the foundation to a relationship that is met with compassion and vulnerability. It feels uncomfortable at the time, but you get to reap the benefits of intimacy for a lifetime. <cue an over the top AWWWWWWWWW>

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