A relationship milestone: 9 questions to ask before moving in with your partner

From that first right swipe to the first parental inquisition, relationships are filled with milestones - moving in with your partner being one of the bigger ones.

It can be a real moment of make-or-break as you discover and navigate each other’s habits and learn just how much you can care for someone even when they never put the milk back in the fridge.

That’s real love!

But just to be sure, here are some things to chat about to ensure you’re on the same page before moving in with your partner.

 1 .How will you divide household tasks?

You never really know just how many water glasses your partner leaves around the house until you move in together. But you’re about to find out.

It might sound like a small thing, but chores such as tidying, cleaning the bathroom, and vacuuming can quickly become a point of contention when one partner makes all the mess and the other is expected to clean it up.

So often, women bear the burden of chores and housework. One study found that women do 69% of the unpaid work when it comes to chores at home, whereas men said they do 43% (and no, those numbers definitely don’t add up!).

Discuss your expectations for tidiness and plan how to achieve them together without an uneven level of work to avoid bitterness driving a wedge into your relationship.

2. How will you pay for shared bills and expenses?

One of the best things about moving in together (aside from being all loved up with your snuggle buddy) is being able to split costs.

Paying for rent or a mortgage is the biggest, followed by the cost of new items (such as an oven or dining suite) and then utility bills. You’ll need a plan for how to pay for it all. It doesn’t necessarily have to be 50/50, but you do need to have clear expectations about how it will work. You can even consider what kind of insurance may be required.  

This is an important area to not just discuss before you move in, but to discuss regularly, as financial challenges are a common cause for concern for many. A study by the Commission for Financial Capability asked more than 3,000 New Zealanders about their financial situations, and found that one in five had relationship problems due to money issues.

3. What do you expect from your lifestyle?

Relationships so often seem to be composed of one person who loves staying in and watching Netflix while the other loves getting out and meeting people and going on adventures.

Opposites attract and bring out the best in each other, but it can cause friction when it comes time to decide how to spend the weekend and planning activities or even how to plan your finances.

Will you be off at a party? Hosting family? Relaxing with a puzzle and endless cups of Earl Grey? Getting up at 5am for a gym session?

Chat through your expectations for your lifestyle to find a happy middle ground.

4. What’s your worst habit?

Does he leave the toilet seat up and a sink full of beard clippings all the time? Does she forget to put her leftovers away so they go off and attract ants?

Do they leave wet towels on the bedroom floor?

Us humans can be pretty icky and annoying at times, and our worst habits are likely to get on other people’s nerves. If you’re not sure of your worst habit – ask the last person you lived with!

Perhaps you’ll hit the jackpot and find out your partner couldn’t care less about empty water glasses all over the house, but perhaps you’ll need to figure out a compromise to keep the peace.

5. How do you move past conflict?

Whether it’s over bills, chores, or a disagreement over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not, you’ll have disagreements and conflicts when you move in together.

What matters is how you deal with it, and how you move past it.

Make it clear what you each need from the other person when you’re having a fight. One person might need a short walk to clear their head, the other might need to hear that they’re still loved even if you’re mad.

Whatever it is, know how to dissolve conflict well before it begins to minimise the fallout and move forward together.

6. What are your deal breakers?

It could be something seemingly harmless, like wearing socks in bed or eating a pizza from the outside in. Or it could be something more serious like not being conscious of electricity wastage and leaving the lights on when they’re not in the room.

Various studies have highlighted a wide range of deal breakers in relationships, and it’s important to know what yours, and theirs, are.

But if wearing socks in bed isn’t something you can get past, it’s time to give your partner a head’s up.

Be honest about your deal breakers and why they matter so your partner knows that’s not a line to cross.

7. What are you going to do to keep the relationship alive?

Once you’re past the honeymoon phase, it’s scarily easy to fall into a routine of meals on the couch, wearing nothing but baggy old track pants at home, and no longer making much of an effort when it comes to keeping the romance alive.

As much as baggy track pants are wonderful, it’s important to never stop ‘dating’. Never stop making time for one another or for getting your glad rags on and checking out a new restaurant or movie together.

Start a tradition such as a monthly adventure or weekly romantic candlelit dinner to help keep that magic alive.

8. What is your biggest fear for moving in together?

No matter how excited you are about moving in together, you probably both have worries in the back of your mind.

Now’s the time to air them out and discuss them. You might be worried about the same things, and you might be able to immediately quash any worries you do have.

Discussing your fears can help to bring you closer, perhaps avoid those fears from ever happening, and prepare for them if they do.

9. Where do you see the relationship going?

Here’s the big, thorny, difficult one that’s often tough to bring up.

But it’s important to know what you each have in mind, whether that’s a house full of plants and rescue dogs, a minivan of kids or none at all, a big white wedding on Waiheke or a happy common law partnership without the paperwork.

After all, our Kiwi Family report found that 4 in 10 Kiwis don’t plan on ever having kids, but another 4 in 10 of those who don’t already have kids would like to.

Know what you’re happy to compromise on, and what you simply can’t accept. As tough as it is, you’ll either learn you have similar enough goals to move ahead, or that your goals don’t align in any shape or form, and it’s better to know now than a few years down the track.

Knowing the answers to these questions is a bit like taking out an insurance policy on your relationship. You put in the effort now and it can help you out down the track. Like life insurance, except with slightly more romance and roses (just slightly).