When Prince Harry tells Meghan Markle let’s walk the acres and talk, he’ll mean it. The sought-after bachelor is reportedly giving the actress the keys to the castle. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Harry is renovating an apartment in Kensington Palace for the couple to share. And “Dirty Harry” is sparing no expense to prepare a lush pad for his favorite lady—he’s even having the estate’s gardeners plant trees for privacy.
Luxe accommodations aside, co-habitating is a game-changer, particularly for couples who’ve dated long distance, and can quickly change the relationship’s dynamic from fairytale to fight club. Whether your man or woman is royalty, or simply makes you feel like you are, here are some things to consider pre-shack up:
The honeymoon is over. This doesn’t mean there won’t be anymore fun or great times, instead it’s a reality check that you are now transitioning your love from a peripheral role in your life to center field. He or she will now be privy to all of the things that make you tick—and explode—and vice versa. There’s also a noted shift from doing things that are just fun to also doing things that require discipline, focus and structure. For example, your partner’s date night or sexy shoe splurges may be less alluring when you know the money is coming from the bi-weekly food budget. The same goes for time and consideration. You may not be as impressed by your mate’s look when his/her grooming ritual takes 90 minutes of morning bathroom time. The key here is accepting that you will find out more things you love about the person, and some things that are annoying as heck. It’s all part of the package.
Compromise on quirks. People have annoying habits. The best way to address these is with an even exchange. If your partner has a quirk that makes you want to rip out his/her eyes, figure out what you do that causes the same effect for him and her and call a truce. Otherwise, deal with it. Both of you deserve to be comfortable at home and nagging will kill that vibe.
Think like a family. The “I’m doing me” mentality has to be reserved for masturbation once you decide to shack up. Unless you and your mate have blatantly expressed otherwise, you are operating as a unit. Each family has it’s own rules and rituals, so it’s important to communicate with your partner about what you expect/need/like and allow him/her space to do the same. This doesn’t have to happen in the form of soliloquy or a written manifesto. Instead, think about it as sharing your vision for your unit with a good friend. Talk about the fantasies you have about him or her, and the realities—also be honest about what you want to give. This is also a great time to talk about your strengths and the roles you’d like to take on. Most important, be hyper aware of the non-verbal communication your partner doles out. Is dinner time 7pm—because it’s always ready then? Are Saturday mornings for clean-up? Be honest and verbal about the routines that work and what you want to modify. It limits guessing and tension.
Know the end game. Don’t shack up with marriage on your mind without sharing that goal with your mate—or vice versa. Be blatantly honest about your feelings, even as they evolve. This doesn’t mean cancel the wedding after an argument or plan one after a good dinner/sex episode. It does mean be aware and honest about your big picture intentions.
S. Tia Brown is lifestyle director at EBONY magazine and is a licensed therapist. Most important, she believes in love and the promise that it gives. Follow her @tiabrowntalks.