If you want to test your relationship – and I mean really give it a push – pack up all your things and move in to a 600-square foot apartment in the city together.
Let the chaos begin.
For one year, my now husband and I did this little social experiment and, for the most part, we did it pretty well. Somewhere between the stubbed toes, chorus of curse words, and shared closet space (#NeverAgain) we found a way to make it work and still actually like each other by the time our lease was up – most of the time at least.
A close friend of mine is now about a month into her own teeny living stint and asked me how we did it without being tempted to smother each other with a pillow in the middle night. I can’t say we were never tempted but we certainly got over it. 🙂
- Make Statement Pieces Count: It may feel counter-intuitive to move some big items in to your small space – but it helps you avoid clutter and makes the room feel less like a dorm and more like a home. Being in a tiny space that still felt good made the living situation way more enjoyable for us. Plus, you’ll be tripping over each other so why even introduce the opportunity to trip over knick-knacks?
- Set Ground Rules + Set Them Early: While this applies for any joint-living experience, it’s especially – dare I say vitally – important in a tiny space. Ours were relatively standard: Shut the door in the bathroom, don’t use the chair as a landing pad for laundry, and no storming out when you’re mad. Full disclosure, that last one did lead to one of us sitting in the bathtub with the dorm slammed shut a couple times, but knowing that we both refused to break our promise – even when we were categorically mad – served as a comforting reminder we’d get through it. Figure out what works for you, make sure you’re on the same page, and stick with it. I promise it makes life easier.
- Plan Your Escape Route: This was key for us. I’m not even talking about week-long excretions to the tropics or southern islands (although those are nice…). Sometimes it’s just essential to get out of the house. We live a block from Piedmont Park and when the stir craziness threatened to overtake our sanity we’d simply pack up a picnic and have dinner out there. Scope out your own go-to place that can serve as a quick and easy escape…and use it.
- Communicate: I know, I know. Duh. But unless your spouse is blessed with the mind reading super powers mine missed, you need to actively make this a priority. I vividly remember the night his favorite team had a late-night playoff game. He was in the living room but since the living room was literally 3.5 steps and a curtain away from the bedroom, he might as well been cheering and couch-coaching in bed next to me. I dramatically tossed and turned and “hmmph-ed” for the better part of an hour before I finally rolled out of bed and aggressively pattered over to the sofa. I explained how incredibly rude he was being for – at that point – basically breathing while he looked at me, completely dumbfounded how he could have upset me. When I finished my rant and 10-point presentation on why he should be more considerate he said, in the most innocent way, “Babe, if you want me to turn the sound off, why didn’t you just ask?” Uh, lightbulb. If you want something, or don’t want something, just ask.
- Embrace The Chaos: While there are moments that your cozy home will feel like a half-step up from a prison cell, overall, it’s actually really fun. You’ll grow as a couple and find comedy in the situation. Remember that it’s temporary and you’re making memories you’ll have forever. Who wants to reminisce about that time you got your dream, Pinterest-perfect house right away? How dull. Think of it as an adventure, and it will become one.
Oh, and stagger out your sink time. After the first day we never again attempted to get ready at the same time. It. Doesn’t. Work.