It should be incredibly exciting to make a home together with your new husband. All those glittering new gifts to use, family traditions to start, and cozy nights to savor all on your own! So why is it that so many couples spend their first few weeks of cohabitant bliss bickering over his hideous collection of action figures, or her enormous pile of shoes? Make sure you don’t start off on the wrong foot by forgetting to think about the practicalities of your new situation.

Moving Boxes

Photo by Flickr user Skrewtape.

You may feel tempted to accomplish a lot of these tasks after the move; what with the hectic state you’re probably in from the housing search and wedding planning, it’s easy to let these considerations go by the wayside. But if you follow these five steps before you move, you’ll find yourself well on the way towards a moving day that’s the great experience you’ve been looking forward to.

1. Identify and purge duplicates

The first step to merging your belongings is simple: just walk through your homes, together, pinpointing all of the duplicate items. You’ll probably come up with a large list. Once you’ve identified all the spare items, discuss which you’d prefer to keep.

The easiest method is just choosing whichever is newest or nicest, but if you want to make a case for your vintage egg beater, now is the time to do it! At the end of the process, you should have a big pile of excess home goods; hold a garage sale, go on Craigslist, or donate to get rid of everything.

2. Agree on a system of compromise

During your walk-through, you’ll probably have a few disagreements on what to keep. They’ll be the first of many, and it’s best to have a plan to deal with the situation before those disagreements turn into serious arguments. Use one of these methods:

• Go one-for-one: For every item you get to keep, he’s allowed to save a favorite of his own.

• The veto system: Both of you are allowed to veto any item. This works best if you have some extra cash you can spend on buying replacement items that have been agreed upon.

• Wait a while: If you really can’t agree on something, hold off on making a decision and let tempers cool. Then reevaluate the next week, or next month.

3. Discuss your decorating style

Hopefully this topic came into discussion when you were registering for your wedding, but now is the time to nail down anything that wasn’t agreed on before. It’s more than just selecting home furniture and accessories; you both should be able to feel comfortable in your new place.

To that end, each of you should come up with a few keywords that describe your style (eclectic or classic) and your needs (desk space, soft rugs). Then try to incorporate those ideas into every decorating choice you make.

4. Plan your layout

Why bother worrying about whose couch is going in the new place, when a few measurements will tell you that both are too big for the intended space? Take measurements and come up with a general storage plan; get an idea of the function of every room, closet, and drawer. That way, you’ll get a better idea of how much space you have, and can purge accordingly.

5. Designate personal and shared spaces

A lot of newlyweds make the assumption that they’ll want to spend every moment of their time together, but this isn’t a very realistic expectation. Even if you have a tiny place, it’s important to give each other breathing room.

The most important areas to create personal spaces are your clothing storage and your office space. Make a desk space inside a closet, or put up a folding screen between two sides of your walk-in wardrobe. Even if the privacy is largely conceptual, you’ll still appreciate the feeling of having something to yourself.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should go into these discussions expecting to have to make compromises. Once you’re ok with letting go of the small stuff, you’ll be able to focus exclusively on what matters the most: enjoying the company of the person you love, in a home that’s comfortable and beautiful for you both.

This post was written by Alyssa, a part-time wedding photographer with an obsession for anything having to do with “the big day.” When not chasing after brides and grooms with her camera, you can typically find Alyssa exploring Seattle with a venti hazelnut latte in hand.

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