How to Make Two Homes One

It seems like things are going just as planned until you remember that now you have to figure out how to combine your two homes into one.
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Young happy couple moving boxes at home
Young happy couple moving boxes at home

Alright, you've got the wedding planning in full swing: venue picked out with the deposit put down; caterer chosen and the tastings are out of the way; final dress fitting, done! It seems like things are going just as planned until you remember that now you have to figure out how to combine your two homes into one (if you don't live together already, of course).

As women, most of us like our space to be organized and neat. It kind of seems like most men are still living with the college dorm mentality. Shot glasses from his roadtrips with the boys. Baseball cards that he's been collecting since he was 15 but hasn't looked at since he was...well, 15. These things seem so meaningless. You begin counting down the days until you can start throwing them away. You're thinking, "I mean, who really needs 23 shot glasses?! Our house will look so much better without all of those stupid tchotchkes!" Right? Well, not really.

One of my brides recently asked to have a meeting at her house to go over wedding details. As I drove up, I saw her carrying out two huge garbage bags. I assumed she was just taking out the garbage until she informed that she was finally able to throw out all of her fiancé's "crap". I tried to mind my business and focus on the catering menu until I saw her throw away a pile of t-shirts. I asked her what she was doing and she said that she can't stand any of those shirts on him and he'd never miss them. I've seen this happen on TV but I've never actually seen it with my own eyes.

Let's look at this a different way: If someone walked into our house and started throwing away our things, we'd be ready to kill! I can't even imagine searching for an item of clothing to find out later that my fiancé had thrown it out because he didn't see the importance. There is no need to handle the combining of houses disrespectfully. Now, I'm not saying keep all of his little knickknacks, but it is important to have a talk with him BEFORE throwing his stuff out. I'd have him pick out maybe five of his favorites. He'll probably be more flexible with letting go of some of his things because he's a guy and just doesn't care as much as we do.

Here are a few ideas that will help make the transition from one home to two a little easier:

• Consult. We've already talked about consulting with him before throwing out his clothes. Consultation doesn't end there. You're going to have to consult about almost everything: visitors, who cleans the dishes, who takes out the trash, who gets to watch their shows on the big TV...everything. If you've had girl's night at your house every Thursday night for the past year, make sure that your husband is OK with that continuing. It is now his house as well and he might not want that to continue.

• Finances. Whether you have a joint account or not, you'll need to discuss who is paying the mortgage, who is in charge of the utilities, etc. You can't assume that your husband or wife is going to handle everything. Make it clear at the beginning and there won't be any issues.

• Allow personal space. I've had roommates and I've also lived on my own for years. I wasn't used to having someone around all the time. Don't take it personally if he just wants to watch football by himself in your room. There will come a time when you just want to take a bath and read your magazines without him in your face. You may be one of those couples who want to be in each other's faces all day and all night but a little bit of space won't hurt.

When you get engaged, you have to remember that you're combining your lives together. That means bank accounts (if you decide to go that route), debt (we'll talk about that later), and your houses. You will have to learn to let little things, like his old t-shirts and baseball cards, go if you want to have a peaceful marriage...there will be plenty of other things to fight about.

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