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Move in together… decorate together

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Hate his stuff?

Eeeek! Moving in together is the ultimate test - the test of STUFF - yours and his. Is this the beginning of the end? How strong is your relationship? Be sure to make the right moves when you move in together.

Couple Decorating

He looks you in the eye and with his big, handsome grin he says, "Why don't we move in together?" You catch your breath. Ahhh! Love is grand. An immediate reaction might be warm fuzzies, but then the reality sets in.

The beginning or the end?

Believe it or not, a simple thing like home decorating has the potential of sabotaging an entire relationship. How well can you communicate? How flexible can you be? How stubborn and how sensitive are you? Decorating can be the litmus test of your entire future together.

Start talkin'!

What do you do now that you've both agreed to take the plunge and move in together? The answer is - Talk! Talk! Talk! Tactfully communicating about how each of you view home decorating may seem petty, but it is crucial. Personal space is very important to each of us, and when we join forces to create a home together there are many decisions to be made. How we handle these decisions together is certainly an indicator of how we will communicate on future decisions, as well.

His place or is he moving into yours?

Either of these scenarios can mean disaster. You've both already created a personal space unique to your own needs, interests, and emotional make-up. Both of you have accumulated lots of your own STUFF. Someone else moving in and infiltrating your space (and your STUFF) is like an invasion of aliens. The best-case scenario would be to find a new place, one that's neither yours nor his, and start from scratch. Doing this enables you to create an environment to which you can both identify.

"Stuff" decisions

Do you really want his international beer bottle collection and tattered college sofa as part of your living room? They may hold fond memories of male bonding for him, but churn your stomach. Does he really want the beautiful pink flowery bedspread that Aunt Sue made and your cute family of stuffed bears moving onto his bed? You may feel all cuddly and secure with them, but they make him want to gag. Items we've had as part of our décor for years may hold special meaning and memories for us but can irritate the heck out of our partner.

Timing and communication to the rescue

Find a time when you're both in a good mood and together sort through the personal items you both hold dear. Decide which you would both like as part of your new home together and which you're willing to sacrifice. Your flowered bedspread may be better off in your cousin's college dorm room and his tattered sofa might be a better match in his dad's oversized garage. Those things really important to you that don't fit into your couple décor might be best put into storage. After all, another reality is that a day may come when you decide to set up housekeeping on your own again.

More decisions to make

You also need to talk about decorating styles and color preferences. He may like the African jungle look where as you like retro. You'll also have to find a place for all the "stuff" you've both agreed on incorporating into the décor. In the end, you may settle on a decorating style that's more eclectic with the understanding that the environment you create together will naturally evolve with time.

Our home is our castle

Moving in together can very well become your "happily ever after," but be careful that combining households isn't the beginning of the end. Our home can truly be our castle with the right prince charming, as long as the home decorating part of the move-in doesn't send your prince galloping off on his white horse … with his beer bottle collection tied to the saddle.

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