Expectation: You’ll spend so much more time together.
Reality: While this isn’t entirely untrue—after all, clocking a solid eight hours lying next to each other in bed each night counts for something!—you might envision a whole lot more date nights in your horizon. But Claudia Six, clinical sexologist, relationship coach and author, points out that this likely won’t be the case. “It’s when you live together that you might actually most need ‘me’ time, time without your beloved,” she explains. “It’s important to have things that you do for you: your own friends, your own hobbies, your own exercise routine. Otherwise you lose your sense of who you.” Remember, a good balance of work, friends, family and, of course, intimate nights that are about just the two of you, is key to a happy relationship. And, as Dr. Six notes, absence makes the heart grow fonder…
Expectation: You’ll lose your independence and freedom.
Reality: Dr. Six notes that it’s more common for men to have this fear than women, but both genders can experience a fear of losing their individuality and free time. “Freedom represents different things to different people,” she says. “It might be the option of playing pool and having a couple of beers with friends, on short notice, playing guitar in the basement until late at night, or sitting in their underwear watching TV and eating tortilla chips.” For others, it might mean reading a favorite book at night in silence, without the sound of guitar blasting friends yelling. To to find a happy medium, it’s important to continue doing the things that make you individually happy. “This way you bring your happy self home to your significant other, who hopefully is bringing their happy self home too,” says Dr. Six. “Then you can talk about your day and the things you’ve done while you were apart.”
Expectation: Your tastes in style and decor will fuse together effortlessly.
Reality: Chances are, this won’t be the case. Maybe you’ve envisioned a coral-toned, aquarium-inspired bathroom decor and he’s dead set on keeping his red shaggy bath rug and Giants logo-clad shower curtain. “What we often see happen is that she takes over because she has ‘better taste’ and ‘a woman’s touch,’ leaving him feeling disregarded and unseen, a stranger in his own home,” says Dr. Six. “It might sound sexist, but in my 25 years of couples counseling this is what I hear.” Her solution? Discuss decor ahead of time and come to an agreement about who will decorate each area of your shared home. “If he is attached to his barcalounger, you need to make room for it. And if she has a favorite dresser from her grandmother, that doesn’t match anything, you need to find a special place for it,” she explains. “In order to set yourself up for success, you need to agree on how the physical space is used and adorned.” You can also set up your wedding registry to decorate your home together—and get rid of old stuff in favor of the new.