Chances are you’ve already had a few private freak-outs about all the clutter your spouse has collected over the years. His vintage record collection takes up way too much space, and her nail polish alone will fill the bathroom vanity to overflowing. From shared expenses to shared shelf space, here’s how to compromise when living with your spouse.
Learn How to Speak to Each Other
When you find yourself taking an inventory of each other’s possessions, it’s easy to be ruthless with the other person’s “toss” pile. But don’t. Certainly your spouse’s college t-shirts don’t fit anymore; but they carry a certain nostalgia you don’t understand, and putting on the pressure to throw them out will only cause a rift between you. Instead, lead by example. Explain your rationale as you toss your own stuff. Try, “This used to mean a lot to me because (insert story here); but now I think it just takes up space that I’d rather use for making memories with you.”
If your significant other still isn’t getting the hint, talk to them about how living in a clutter-free space can actually improve your health and relationships. Then, instead of pointing out specific items you’d rather not live with, ask open-ended questions like “What sort of space do you envision for us?” and “What do you think fits in our apartment?”
Discover What’s Worth Compromising On
You don’t always have to agree on which takeout place to order dinner from, but when it comes to furnishing a space for the two of you, mutual agreement is sometimes crucial. And first on that list? The bed you sleep in every night together. Avoid making your bed a source of conflict by going mattress shopping together so you can find a bed that is comfortable for both of you.
Besides your mattress, try to compromise on other big pieces of furniture. If he’s been living with your leopard print sofa and you’re sick of his giant man-cave armchair, it’s time to reassess those pieces. Instead, consider some neutral pieces in classic shapes. Think black or brown leather, then accessorize with throw pillows and blankets in fun colors you both can live with.
Learn When to Stand Your Ground
While there is a place to compromise in most areas of a shared living space, sometimes it pays to stand your ground. Make sure you have that awkward money talk so you’re on the same page. And while you’re at it, talk about dividing up house chores equitably, too. The conversation is hard to get started but you’ll prevent a lot of resentment later on. Another non-negotiable? Date night… because your romantic relationship came before all this kind of stuff anyway.
(Originally published at http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=2716)