Does every romantic relationship come to that fork in the road? That area that isn’t as easy to decipher when thoughts begin to whisper, “What’s next for us or where are we headed?” And then there’s that age-old puzzler that usually shows up not far behind, “Should we move in together?”

Whether you’re dating, engaged, happily married, or married and need that flame to grow a little hotter, a little brighter—living with the one you love can be challenging, even discouraging at times.  And let’s face it, classes are not being taught in school on how to maintain and cultivate healthy relationships within the home, so how are we expected to know these things anyway?

While mystery may be hard to hold onto in a long-term relationship (hard, but not impossible), intimacy never has to die as long as both parties are willing to put forth effort.

1. Say “please” and “thank you.”—Why is it that we are nicer and more patient sometimes with people we barely know and we treat our loved ones poorly? Being courteous not only says, “I appreciate you and don’t take you for granted,” but it also provides a sense of assurance that you aren’t “too comfortable” in the relationship and you care about how your lover is treated.

2. Give each other space—Reality is, you can’t really go three or four days now without seeing each, so missing your partner can get a little tricky.  Always maintaining your identity outside of your relationship is key, not just for living together, but for the rest of your life. You are still two separate entities and should still have your own interests, friends, and activities. When you are home, being under the same roof and not in the same room all the time can make living together a wonderful thing. No matter who you are, everyone needs time to themselves to do whatever they enjoy doing at home on their own time. Many couples feel that when both parties in the relationship know how to be together without the need to speak or be in the same room together all the time, it makes coming back together much more fun and alluring.

3. Stop the nagging before it starts—Nobody wants to feel as though they live with their parents or some type of dictator, so talk about how you would both like to run the household, but be open to mistakes and underwear being left on the floor, or toothpaste on the bathroom mirror. These are not reasons to drive yourself or your partner crazy. Think before you rant and ask yourself, “Will I lose sleep over him not filing up the Brita filter a few times?” If the answer is no, carry on and focus on the good things you guys do together, like taking turns cooking and washing dishes—but try to limit the complaining, and if you can’t, then have a sit-down and resolve the underlying issues respectfully.

4. Stay your beautiful self . . . inside and out—This doesn’t mean wake up with a face full of Cover Girl every morning, or run out and get a new lacy get-up every week. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, but don’t let your man forget just how sexy you are. Even if we don’t want to accept it or acknowledge it, men ARE visual and do care about the way their women carry themselves. In other words, don’t live in that one pair of gray sweatpants with the grease stain on the front and your oversized “Oooooh on the TLC Tip!” t-shirt from 1992. Continue to take pride in your appearance, continue to go to the gym and eat healthy . . . even if your partner likes to bring unhealthy treats home, keep yourself disciplined and shining.

5. Keep private moments as they are . . . Private!—It’s normal to feel more relaxed about handling bodily functions and bathroom rituals as time goes on in a relationship, but you guys aren’t brother and sister. Reserve certain bathroom duties (pun intended) as solo missions—but use your imagination, there are still things a couple can do together in the bathroom that will definitely keep the party jumping.

6. Set aside the quality time—Getting dressed up and going on dates with your honey should never cease, no matter how long the relationship has been going. Sometimes quality time can mean different things for men and women, so while sitting on the couch watching his favorite show may feel like QT to him, make sure you are both getting out in different environments as a couple and getting what you need as well.

7. Surprise each other—Living together can present opportunities for romance that weren’t as easy to achieve before. Run each other a bath and have dinner on the floor sitting on a blanket, slip a note in his bag before he heads out the door letting him know how much you appreciate him taking care of you and how you can’t wait to see him later. Let your partner know how interested you are in him or her, a little act of kindness can take you a long way.

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  • I was never a successful live with kind of guy until I got married. I think my mindset about commitment changed over time. What you outline doesn’t always come easy so we have to make the effort to keep things alive, and when partnered with the right person, the right way, it turns out alright. Thanks Ganeka…

  • Rudolph

    Hi GiGi
    I had a wonderful time reading your article. May be one day, you will have a culinary article about our coversation of this past Saturday. Looking forward to that. Until then, take care of yourself.

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