When 50-somethings move in together

How to merge households and stay sane and in love
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Moving in with a significant other -- also known as merging households -- is a serious step for middle-aged folk. The pitfalls are practical and emotional, but the rewards can be very sweet. Here's a set of tips that will help you navigate these waters while keeping your sanity -- and maybe even some of your favorite tchochkes!

1. Detach.

You've got too much stuff anyway, and you know it. Acknowledge that there's a lot that's got to go. Edit your half of the equation as much as possible before attempting the big merge.

2. Remember that you're partners, not rivals.

You're in this together now. It's not a competition. Your stuff is not intrinsically better than his, or vice versa.

3. Hold space for "sacred cows."

There are lots of things that are important to each of you, even if not "valuable" in terms of either aesthetics or money. Honor them.

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4. Be practical.

Whe n there are duplications, whether it's a dining room table or a colander, stand back with as much objectivity as possible and ask, "Which one works better?"

5. Take a step back.

There's no rush. If you hit a sticking point, back off, lay low, and wait it out. Remember that both of you are doing a lot of adjusting. One person's turf is being "invaded" and the other is feeling homeless and in need of a "nest." As each settles in a solution will usually present itself.

6. Be open to trial and error.

Nothing is written in stone. Think of the merging process as an ongoing experiment. Be willing to at least try to eat on Aunt Tilly's dinner plates. Keep an open mind. Again, it's only stuff!