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How to survive a move with your relationship intact

October 31, 2020

You sit on a bare floor in an empty room, your muscles aching, covered in bruises that came from who-knows-where. Every inch of you is sticky with a combination of sweat, dirt, cleaning chemicals and those frustrating, microscopic, dust-like particles that enveloped you the moment you picked up your first cardboard box. You’ve grazed knees from scrubbing the grouting, a scrape along your arm where you banged into the door whilst manoeuvring a 2 metre wide couch through a 2.1 metre wide door, and a dozen thick paper cuts.

You’d kill to scrub off the grime, but the electricity at the old house went off yesterday and cold showers have never been your thing—besides you’ve already cleaned it. Your wife walks in, all over the mopped floors, and it takes every ounce of your willpower not douse her with the bucket of soapy water.

Moving is hell. It takes a toll on your body, bank account, sanity, and if you’re not careful—your relationship.

In a month’s time this will all be a distant memory; you’ll be ensconced in your new digs, chilling out on the couch binge-watching Netflix, playing with the dog in your new backyard, and thinking how awesome is it that you have a place of your own. But to get there, you need survive the move itself, or you may be chilling out on that couch on your own.

Pulling together all of our experience moving (and we have a lot of it) we’ve come up with some sure-fire strategies to ensure that your relationship doesn’t get lost in the move (like the toaster…seriously, where did that go?)

Work to your strengths.

Treat the move with all the strategy of Westeros battle. No one sends Tyrion into battle; he’s a master strategist and belongs on the castle walls, directing the troops. Jamie’s sword skills are his greatest strength. Put that man on the front lines.

The same applies to your move. Divide and conquer.

  • Whoever’s the best with money handles the budget.
  • Whoever is most organized takes care of the paperwork—organizing the mail redirect etc.
  • If you’ve got great attention to detail, clean the bathroom.
  • Leave all the walls to someone who’s better with bigger, less fiddly jobs.

By allocating each person different jobs stuff gets done faster, and you have things to appreciate about each other.   

Accept people do things differently.

Picture this—a wall of boxes neatly and deliberately stacked; three trolleys hired to move those boxes; a truck with a lift so trolleys can be rolled over, raised into the container and rolled to the back of the back where the boxes are easily dropped off. It’s a sheer masterpiece of strategy and design, that is until the significant other chooses to move all the boxes by hand, one-by-one, without use of the lift. Blood begins to boil—and not because of the 40 degree heat. You have two options:

  1. Get pissed off, and let him know about it.
  2. Swallow it; accept that he can go to all that extra work if he wants to; and bring him an extra bottle of water.

When a couple has different ways of doing things anyway (e.g. the super-planner vs. the just-get-it-done type) these differences can be magnified in a stressful situations. What would be brushed off or laughed at in any normal circumstance becomes a grievous affront. It is very easy to think that you know best when it comes to moving house—particularly if you’ve moved house a lot—but instead of getting caught up in it, remind yourself that the details don’t really matter.

  • Does it matter that she doesn’t label everything in every box? Not really. They’ll all get emptied eventually.
  • Does it matter that he goes overboard with the bubble wrap? Not really. What’s an extra $30 if it saves an argument?
When it gets bad, work in different rooms.

And it will get bad. Couples that can go a year without an argument will find themselves huffing, sniping and grinding their teeth. When you’re at the point when you’re ready to murder him with all those mismatching Tupperware lids, take a deep breath, turn on your headphones and move to another room. Time apart is golden.

Lower the stress levels.

Perhaps you’ve got an eight hour drive to your new city ahead of you, and you’d like to be on speaking terms for it; perhaps you have a wedding to go to and need to look as if you like each other; perhaps you’re just hating the hate; regardless, there are things you can do that will lower the stress levels, which will in turn lower the arguments.

  • Hire a cleaner. Yes it costs money, but they can do in three hours what will take you two whole days. You also then get to spend three hours out of the house. Best money ever spent.
  • Hire removalists. Again, this is a ‘money vs. convenience’ issue. If you can afford it, it is well worth the cash. Removalists can also do your packing for you if you are short on time and happy to pay the big bucks.
  • Take time out. If you’re too knackered for conversation, go see a movie. If you’ve been eating Macca’s for three days straight, treat yourself to a decent meal. Take the dog for a walk. Go play board games at a mate’s place. Read a book. Give yourself a few hours to reconnect and remember what it is you like about each other.
Remember to say ‘I love you’.

Because you are as hard to live with as they are at the moment, and it’s important to recognize this. For everything they do to drive you crazy, you do something to drive them nuts. It’s also important to recognize the hard work your significant other has put in.  I’m sorry. I love you. Good job. These are the seven most important words you need this week.

When the move is over, so are the arguments.

The last box is unpacked, you’ve found the wine glasses and ordered dinner from a local Thai restaurant you found on Google. You have a choice—begin your new life arguing about the old one, or let it go and start it as you mean to continue, curled up together.