I read once that moving has been proven one of the most stressful things that we humans are lucky enough to navigate. Having (just barely) survived one such move, I can confidently confirm that this is accurate. Much like our bodies do with childbirth — so I’m told, at least — I think that evolution has programmed us to forget all of the frustrations that come with moving from one home to another so that we don’t get stuck in one place for too long. But, oh, do those frustrations exist. The tasks required in order to successfully execute a move are almost laughable when you say (or write) them one after another. First, you have to decide that it seems like a reasonable time to uproot your life. Then, you get to look your bank account straight in the eye and figure out how much you can afford to spend on the process. Find time in your already busy schedule to tour new places to live. Put down a comical amount of cash in order to secure a place. Pack all of your belongings in boxes. Then take all of your belongings out of boxes. Oh, and could you continue living your life and doing all the things at the same time? Great.

A couple hugs excitedly in their new home

Like many millennials, I’ve been through this process a handful of times already, but for the first time ever, I experienced my most recent move with a trusty partner in crime by my side: my husband. After making the challenging decision to leave the apartment where we got engaged (in the tiny spot between the coffee table and the TV), we debated our next move for the better part of a year. Should we continue paying astronomical New York City rental prices? Was it time to try a new city? Were we ready to actually be adults and buy? Ultimately, we opted to stay in New York… as long as we could find a bigger place. Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting on the floor of our new, bigger apartment. We have about five boxes left to open. My husband’s clothes are still packed in garbage bags all over the bedroom. There’s an IKEA coffee table waiting to be put together and plenty of things waiting to be hung on our empty walls. But when I reflect on this process — beginning on the day almost 12 months ago that we started talking about moving — I think less about all of the work that still needs to be done and more about what I’ve learned about relationships, thanks, of course, to my husband. Here’s what I’m taking away (outside of some additional square footage and an in-unit washer/dryer).

A couple assembles a shelf together

1. Good decisions take time. When the idea of leaving our old apartment first came up in October 2017, I figured we would be on to our next chapter within a few months. At the latest, I assumed we would be in a new home by April. I’m a doer by nature, and even though there were high stakes hanging in the balance, my first instinct back then was to make a decision about where we would go based on whatever information we had available and just… do it. But my husband is a much slower, more deliberate thinker about these things than I am, so collectively we spent the next 10 months (ugh) figuring out what to do next. It was uncomfortable and decidedly un-pretty, and I know the people around us thought we were crazy. Still, when everything came together a few weeks ago, I knew that the choice to stay in New York was the right one. Making collective decisions can be a challenge, but with a little patience, I’ve learned that you can work in lockstep with your partner in awesome ways.

2. Listening is key. Yes, we all know that good listening skills are key in a successful relationship, but I don’t know that they’ve ever been more crucial in my relationship than in the last few weeks. Our ability to openly and patiently listen to each other’s concerns — about where we were moving, how one of us was packing the breakables in a box, and why it made more sense to stack the pots in a lower cabinet in our new place — has been tested, but (for the most part, at least) we’ve been able to understand the other’s point of view and compromise where necessary.

A couple works together on unpacking

3. It’s okay to divide and conquer. Honestly, the phrase “stay in your lane” is coming to mind, but that somehow feels less appropriate for marriage! What I’ve realized throughout the last few weeks of our move, especially, is that my relationship works best when both my husband and I can show up in a situation and put our individual talents and abilities to work. I’m really great at planning ahead and figuring out how to attack a task in a big-picture way, so I took the lead on getting our old apartment boxed up and organizing logistics for moving day. My husband, on the other hand, is great with details, so he handled switching over our utilities and other specifics. At first, it felt like this divide and conquer strategy was somehow taking away from our teamwork, but I’ve learned that it actually is teamwork!

4. When in doubt, laugh. As you already know if you’ve done it, moving is exhausting, and it can drive you to that point where you’re not sure if you’re ready to laugh or cry. Obviously, laughter is always preferable to tears, but I think this is especially true when an S.O. is involved. It’s easy to get frustrated with each other and pick small fights when you’re both tired and would really much rather be binge-watching on the couch than sorting through your closet, but finding a reason to laugh with — or even at! — each other really helps. My husband and I have laughed at a lot of things that really weren’t very funny over the last few weeks, but it helped us maintain a united front, and it’s a good reminder of how important silliness is in a relationship.

5. Know when it’s time to ask for help. I tend to be pretty stubborn about asking other people to lend a hand with… well, pretty much anything. Taking on a big move has forced me to get a little humble. Whether asking my husband to help me lift a mattress so I could straighten out a dust ruffle (the most ladylike thing I’ve ever typed, by the way) or admitting that I totally messed up that IKEA table, I’ve had to get more comfortable with the fact that I can’t do everything by myself. Part of being in a relationship is, of course, learning to rely on another person to support you, but it’s a lot easier to pretend you don’t actually need support when it’s business as usual. Shaking things up with a move has been a good reminder that there’s nothing wrong with leaning on bae for help now and then.

What’s your favorite part about moving? Least favorite part? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)