After marriage, most women dream of buying and moving into a house with their new husband. They imagine shopping for home decorations together and making the home theirs. When you’re marrying into a stepfamily, that’s not always the case. Living inside school boundaries and parenting schedules can play a big factor into staying where you are and moving in with your husband.
When I got married, I had a house and a cat but no children of my own. My house was too small for us, so I sold it and moved in with my husband and stepdaughter. While this was a happy time for me, it was also difficult because I had to move 10 miles farther away from my work. It was difficult for my husband because my cat was moving with me and my husband is allergic to cats. We also wanted to stay in the school district where my stepdaughter goes to school. With all of the changes with our marriage, we didn’t want to uproot my stepdaughter and have her adjust to a new school and find new friends. The result was that we had to come up with some creative solutions to make everyone happy.
Was I excited about moving into the house where my husband had lived with his ex-wife? Of course not! Did I recognize that it was also the best thing for our family at the time? Yes. Was I willing to make changes in order to start my new life with my husband and stepdaughter? Yes, of course! The important thing is that my husband was also willing to make changes so that I could settle in comfortably.
Tips for Adjusting to Moving into Your New Husband’s Home
How did we make this work and make the home “ours”? Here are some tips to get started:
- Paint. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do! We repainted nearly every room in the house and it really gave the house a “new” feel.
- Rearrange rooms. Since my husband is allergic to my cat, we moved his home office upstairs and moved my stepdaughter into a new room. We put a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs to keep my cat on the first floor and out of our bedroom and my husband’s office. (Surprisingly, this worked because my cat can’t jump very high.) This also changed the “feel” of the house. If it’s possible, see if you can’t rearrange some of the rooms without making anyone feel uncomfortable.
- Give children some freedom to choose paint or decorations. We let my stepdaughter choose the paint color of her room and the decorations for her new bathroom. Of course, she was excited to be able to choose these to be part of the remodeling that we did in the house. You don’t need to give children free rein over the remodeling, but allowing them to be part of the process gives them a sense of belonging.
- Minimize. Since you’re merging households, you probably have two sets of everything—two sets of silverware, dishes, and decorations! That means that you’ll have to go through everything and declutter. A book that I found really useful to help me minimize is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The book has a central idea that you can use as you’re minimizing. You pick up each item and ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it. If not, you get rid of it. Which leads to the next idea…
- Have a garage sale. If there are lots of decorations or “artifacts” from the first marriage in the house, have a garage sale to get rid of some of those things and start over. Plus, you’ll probably be bringing your own decorations with you, so you and your husband will have to decide what to keep and what to put on the garage sale. Also, be aware that your husband might not view those leftover items from his first marriage in the same way you do. He probably doesn’t have any sentimental feelings about the things and most likely simply sees the functionality of the items. Be clear about what makes you uncomfortable or what needs to be put away and saved for your stepchildren for when they are older.
- Make sure that everyone has a comfortable space that is theirs. Combining households and merging space is a big deal. Everyone needs a space that they can retreat into and close the door. (Including you!) You might need to set boundaries in the beginning and let everyone know when you want some quiet time for reading or napping. If that’s the case, let your stepchildren know that you don’t like to be disturbed during this time. Or maybe your husband doesn’t like anyone in the kitchen while he’s cooking. Just make sure to teach your family members how to respect each other’s boundaries. For more ideas on how to maximize your space, click HERE.
The Importance of Communication
Above all, make sure that you communicate your needs with your husband and give him an opportunity to communicate with you. Give your stepchildren space to adjust to you (and your children and pets) moving in. Make sure that you and your husband talk to them about the changes in the household. Allow them to express their feelings in a respectful manner and be willing to work together as a family to navigate these changes. Be prepared to deal with any trouble your stepchildren may have in adjusting to these household changes. Just remember that by working through these changes as a family, you will grow together and form a stronger bond.
After you got married, did you move into your husband’s home or did he move into yours? Or did you buy a house together? What helped you during this adjustment period? Share your tips in the comments!