Traveling with your boo is one of the most exciting things you can do as a couple. Whether you’re jet-setting to the hottest vacation spots or relocating to on of the top 25 cities for jobs, a change in environment can pour new life into a relationship. David Klow, a marriage and couples therapist and the owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago, believes new experiences — like moving cross-country together — are the best kind of therapy because they add some mystery back into a relationship. But moving can be really tough on couples that aren’t on the same page. David shared the seven essential convos you should have with your S.O. before packing up your moving truck.
Essential Talks for Relocating Couples
1. Discuss what you’re looking for in a new locale. Most people have some idea about how their life will look in a new city. Your partner may have very different thoughts about where you’ll live and what your home will look like. Before you start looking through listings online, come to some kind of agreement on the logistics of your move. Even establishing what you DON’T want in your new city is helpful.
2. Make decisions based on real information. Exploring uncharted territory together can be exciting, but make sure you ground your expectations in facts. “There’s a balance of adventure and the known in having a plan,” David says. Things like the job market, cultural differences and availability of housing can have a huge impact on your experience in a new place. Do your homework and talk to some people who actually live there before you make assumptions.
3. Examine how you each cope with change. In your transition together, you’ll encounter challenges (at the very least a hectic moving day). Sometimes one person will withdraw when they face disappointment. Others might explain their frustrations a little too vocally. “Practice ahead of time so you have a sense of where your partner is going to struggle,” David says. Traveling and major life events, like the sickness of a parent or a sudden job change, will usually show you how the other person deals with stress.
4. Check in on the health of your relationship. Leaving old places gives you or your partner an opportunity to let go, but it can also illuminate secret fears. “When a couple travels, it really shows what their relationship is about,” David says. “When they move together, this happens even more so.” Before you’re hundreds of miles away from your security net, assess how things are going. Couples counseling during this time can ensure you both feel solid before packing your bags.
5. Decide on the mission statement of your relationship. Companies have strategic mission statements, and your relationship should too. It’s important for couples to have a clear understanding of their mutual goals, like deepening your connection or discovering new things about one another. Rather than calling it quits when things get tough, a clear objective makes it easier to see past small struggles.
6. Discuss future goals — both personal and joint. “It’s good to have a sense of what you want your life to look like going forward,” David says. Make your hopes and dreams — like when you’d like to start a family or starting your own business — known. It may mean changing the initial plan a bit. For dating couples, don’t go into a move blindly. This is a great time to talk about the potential of a future together.
7. For LDRs, be clear about your feelings and intentions. Long distance relationships can be a little sticky, especially if one person is joining the other in an unfamiliar city. “Try for a clean transition,” David says. Your partner may carry some guilt for uprooting you or you might resent them for not offering to move. “It’s a hazard for the relocation for someone to feel like they sacrificed too much,” he says. Put your thoughts and feelings into words and be clear about what this move means for the long-term narrative of the relationship.
“For some couples it brings them closer together, but it’s a really mixed bag,” David says. Talking it out — we mean really communicating before you leave town — significantly improves your chances of staying together.
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(Photo via Getty)