I moved in, but I don’t live there.

I moved in with my boyfriend seven months ago, and he won’t let me change anything in the house, as in changing furniture around, moving pictures, bringing some of my pictures and decor in the house. The house is very small, I understand that, and we are looking at a bigger one in a few months, but I don’t understand not changing things around.

This is a tough one. Maybe make a single change, see if he notices, and then figure out what to do next based on his reaction. I would suggest something small at first, like moving out.

Let’s play out a scenario in your house.

You: I have some beautiful prints from my grandmother’s art collection that would look smashing in the living room. I’m going to hang them there!

Boyfriend: No. I don’t want you to bring anything personal to my space, because that would signify an actual commitment, a willingness to compromise, and a desire for the person I love to feel comfortable in her own home. I don’t want any of those things, because I’m a dick.

Okay, now let’s play out this scenario in my house.

Me: Look at this insane thing I bought that I love and you’re probably going to hate! I’m going to display it prominently in the living room.

My husband: You’re right, I do hate it. Do we have to hang that up?

Me: Yes. We do.

Husband: Okay.

Aside from one incident with some bedroom furniture that I will now, ten years later, admit wasn’t the best choice I ever made, this is how we operate, and we both carry on, happy to only bring up the bedroom furniture and how it signifies my lack of respect for his opinion when we’re in an argument about something else.

This is what it’s like to live with someone. I hang up weird shit in the kitchen, and he deals with it. He fills our barn, shed, and every other available storage space with broken microwaves, cordless lamps, and baby gear that we’re obviously never going to use again, and I deal with it.

It’s your home. You’re living together. You’re creating not just a place to sleep and brush your teeth, but a home that reflects your commitment and feelings. It’s the one place in the world where you should feel exactly equal, where your desires matter just as much as the other person who’s there with you. It’s in the Constitution. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and your God-given right to just see how it looks with the TV above the fireplace and the couch and coffee table on the other side of the room.

I think if he can’t get this right when you’re just starting to live together, he’s not going to get any better over time.

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