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How to Keep Resentment From Overtaking Your Relationship


The Nest

One wife's take on what she wishes she knew before moving in together.

By Melissa Walker

For this series called Take It From Me, we asked couples to dish about what they wish they knew before moving in with their partner. Read the rest of the stories here.

Julie Pennell, Oxford, England

Julie, a contributor for The Nest, and her husband, Christopher, have been living together for 15 months, first in New York City and now in Oxford, England.

I wish I knew…that you have to plan the stuff merge.
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Christopher and I had our own places before we lived together, which meant we had basically two of everything when we combined our space. A few months before we got engaged, I even had the (not so) brilliant idea of buying a new headboard, but we ended up keeping his. I wish I had considered that as we got closer to moving in together and been more strategic about what I was buying. One thing that helped a lot was that we sat down together and talked about what we each wanted to keep. For example, his slow cooker was newer, but my sister had given me mine as a present, so I felt attached to it. It's all give-and-take. It's important that both people have things of their own in the house, otherwise it'll just feel like you're a guest.

I wish I knew…that you can't let resentment build.

When you live with roommates, it's easy to let little annoyances go because confrontation is no fun and you know you'll eventually move out. But with a partner, it's so much more important to say what's on your mind immediately, before it builds up. After five years of living with someone, you can't suddenly explode at him about his habit of leaving dirty dishes in the sink—you need to mention it as soon as it comes up. And when your partner tells you about something you do that bothers him, try not to get upset or take it personally. Everyone has little habits, and it's much easier to be open about what bothers you in the beginning.

I wish I knew…that our decorating tastes can work surprisingly well together.

Christopher likes color, and I am more of a neutral girl, so we've had to meet in the middle. We are getting ready to repaint and decorate our apartment, and after lots of discussion, we've decided to paint our living room beige but add a fun, colorful rug and throw pillows. Both of us are excited about the mix.
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I wish I knew…that divvying up chores can get you out of things you hate.

I can't stand taking out the trash, but I don't loathe cleaning the bathroom. So Christopher happily empties the garbage, and I happily scrub. We've also established that if you cook for the other person, you get to sit back and relax when it's over—the chef doesn't do the dishes. It's important to divide the work in a way that feels fair to both of you so there's no resentment.

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Love Magazine: How to Keep Resentment From Overtaking Your Relationship
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