When thinking of couples who will have a hard time merging their two households, most people think of established, mature people who have a lifetime's worth of memories and accumulation. But young, apartment-dwelling couples can have just as much difficulty -- and with less experience to guide them through the process. This can make it an emotional and logistical minefield. 

Combining two homes into one is a task that most newlyweds have to get through, but following certain steps can make it much easier to navigate. Here are the 5 steps to successfully integrating your two lives.

Before the Wedding

Yes, you have a lot of tasks to accomplish before the wedding, but take time to start the merging process while your stuff is still separate. This entails two specific tasks best handled before the wedding:

  • Clean Out. Before moving anything, save yourself some time and space by sorting through your belongings to look for things like half-used bottles, expired food, clothing you don't wear or broken furniture. Weed these things out first. Throw out what's not usable. Eat what's in the refrigerator. Empty the liquor cabinet. Donate duplicate items. In short, pare down your own things to just what's functional. 
  • Take Inventory. Once you know what you will be moving, it's time to assess it by taking an inventory. Write your inventory down, listing items by room or function. Have your fiance do the same. This is the stage when you will start to discover duplication of basic household items. When you have duplicates, choose the one that works the best or is the best quality. And learn to detach yourself emotionally from the household items that don't deserve sentimental attachment. 

After the Wedding

Once you've physically begun living together, it's time to complete the transition of your stuff. There are 3 basic moves to make at this time:

  • Put your Decor Together. Decorating your new apartment should be a reflection of both of you, regardless of whether it's new or was previously the home of one of you. Take decorations off the walls and unpack them from boxes. Place them together in one area so you can make new combinations and new decisions as a couple. This will also help you see your overall theme and how to make it work in your new space. 
  • Defend your Treasures. While it's important to recognize that "it's just stuff" when it comes to a lot of things, it's also vital to not throw out too much. Don't throw out keepsakes, family heirlooms or special memory holders just because your apartment is small and you're starting a new life. Explain to your partner what has a sentimental attachment and why. As a couple, embrace those items. Some couples find it useful to have a "3 veto" rule, in which each partner can veto the destruction or saving of 3 particular items. While you don't have to be that cut-and-dry, it's a good way to differentiate between what's important and what's not.
  • Use Storage... Carefully. You may find that right now you simply cannot streamline your belongings enough to fit them comfortably into a regular apartment. In this case, don't try to cram everything into a small space. Pack the overflow in easy-to-access bins and take them to a storage unit. But have a plan -- including a deadline -- for clearing them out. This can be any length of time from one month to your first anniversary. It's okay to use storage to your advantage, as long as you have an exit strategy. Contact a local storage unit, like Homestead Storage, for more information.

Following these 5 basic steps will help you transition with as little effort and argument as possible. While it's never a perfect process, it can be made easier with some pre-planning and the right attitude toward the experience.