How to Prevent Drama in a Multi-Family Household?

With the increasing large rate of unemployed people, not only in Phoenix, Arizona, but in America in general, a number of Americans may be considering or are in the process of combining households. From experience, that usually doesn’t work out so well, in black households. It’s a shame too because there are so many benefits in multiple families sharing one home. It could be the key in breaking ground on the generational curses within the black community. In this article, we will address common problems you may encounter when deciding to combine households, the benefits of following through with this kind of arrangement, and helpful suggestions to maintain the peace and individuality amongst the group.

What are some problems you see after combining households?

Miscommunications and misunderstandings can become a big issue fairly quickly. Depending on how far they go, a miscommunication can be the end of a newly combined household. It is human to go on autopilot completing your day to day activities. Any little inconvenience or distraction that diverts a person away from being on autopilot can lead to panic and stress. Have you noticed how much change, no matter how small, is usually not accepted without hesitance?

It’s easy to get too comfortable doing things a certain way, especially, when you’ve been consistent. When a person agrees to form a union and create a household with another person, it can seriously throw being on autopilot completely out of the picture. Understand, this person also had a day to day routine that they did prior to living with you. Both people have to alter their daily ritual in consideration of one another. The worst thing to do in this process is to start assuming, you know what they say about assuming. In agreeing to form a union or team, the people involved are also agreeing to compromise with and include everyone in the decisions that affect the group.

Imagine how challenging this process can get when you combine not 2 people, but 2 separate households, an even bigger group of individuals with routines. All of these people have to learn to live in harmony on a daily basis in order to keep a shared residence. An altered day to day routine is just one of the many bridges to cross in living with others that can cause misunderstandings and miscommunications. A misunderstanding or miscommunication that goes unaddressed, no matter how simple it’s origin, can lead to either a miserable shared space or the end of a shared space all together.

Another issue you might encounter in a combined household is the inability to maintain a good balance of individualism and group inclusion. There have been countless studies conducted by scientists and psychoanalysts that show data that support people, who group together in a physical form, also subconsciously group together in the mental form. What this basically means is, everyone in the group will start to think and act, almost in union, for the group instead of individually for themselves. The same thing can be observed in a multi-family household. It’s easier to notice as the group size increases.

You might see this behavior in the form of activities as simple as buying and eating food. Let me give you an example. Let’s say, my family moved in with you and your family and we decide to share meals as group of 4 more often than just for whatever individual who got hungry. Long term, if boundaries are not set, this can lead to one person, if not all, feeling obligated to provide food for everyone. Ultimately, over complicating the decision making process. You can be considerate of others and you can also think for yourself, within the agreed upon boundaries. Feeling the need to always think and act on behalf of the group can be stressful and exhausting.

The group of individuals in this multi family household can also forget the reason why they decided to pursue the idea of combining households in the first place. Humans typically learn and remember best by way of repetition. Information must be presented consistently in order to really hold weight in a person’s brain. Talk about it, regularly, stay up-to date. As people get new information, depending on what it is, plans can quickly change. Think of it like a business; corporate 9-5 position, typically, have their mission and values plastered everywhere possible it can be visible to employees at all times and they hold company meetings often.

The individuals in a multi-family household arrangement could not have a plan at all. The arrangment could have been made under ‘stressed’ conditions. Either way, when there is no clear reason as to why multiple households are combining, it will be quite the challenge to maintain a harmonious environment. Problems amongst people are inevitable, it the lack of problem solving that can cause real issues. Depending on the agreement made regarding the length of a combined household arrangement can drag or fly by.

Although, individuals within groups should maintain a sense of individuality, it would be very helpful to have some common goals, if not a desired outcome. Having a valuable reason as to why you are combining households, provides a reason to maintain the household when presented with challenges. It’s so much easier to leave or avoid conflict, instead of talking out and working through conflict.

What are Some Benefits of having Multifamily Households?

When families decide to come together under one household, in a perfect world, the overall cost of living goes down and the overall income brought in goes up. The expenses of the two households are condensed to the expenses of one; the biggest expense you save on in this arrangement is usually the rent or the mortgage. I won’t say expenses will be cut in half because that would be a lie. The opportunity to save is certainly available. At the end of the day, there may be one household, but more people are being added to the costs of running said household. The group would need to determine the how shared expenses will be split, to avoid last minute questions and problems.

Another great benefit of combining households is the possibility of creating a harmonious team. The importance of being apart of a team is not talked about or encouraged enough within black households. There’s a saying, “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”. What about “two heads are better than one”? If you ask me, the name of the game is ‘How many heads can come together and continuously operate together’? If we could save money and build a great team, as black people, we can launch ourselves a lot further than we could ever imagine. This a possible solutions to two of our biggest problems in the black community; keeping our dollar within the community and unity.

When you are apart of a multi-family household, the chances of an empty house are slim to none. How is that a benefit, you ask? Have you ever tried to set up cable, internet or a house repair? More often than not, you end up having to take off from work and miss out on some income to be available during the schedule window the company provides to complete the service. Have you ever needed someone around to bounce ideas off of or ask for feedback? A person will rarely, if ever, be alone in a multi-family household.

What’s are Some Ways to Keep the Peace in a Multifamily Household?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Communication can not be stressed enough. Like most problems, we as people can make problem solving very simple if we would just communicate beforehand with transparency. No one likes to be lied to, feel taken advantage of, or to miss information the effects or involves them. Maintaining openness and honesty allows relationships amongst people to strengthen and grow. The opposite can be said of relationships that lack communication. It’s never to late to learn the art of communicating. A closed mouth does not get fed.

The misunderstandings and miscommunication we referred to earlier can be cleared up with communication between the parties involved. Sometimes a mediator is helpful or harmful, it’s probably best to keep it between the people, who have an issue or concern. The same can be said of the maintaining individualism within a group. People will continuously do or say to you, what you allow to be said and done. Unfortunately, mind reading is not a talent humans were blessed with so if you go with out addressing a thought or concern you can’t honestly expect anyone else to know about it. Without awareness how can resolution come about?

In addition to effective communication, people in this arrangement people should actively practice self awareness and accountability. When I mentioned people going into autopilot, I mean just that. In autopilot, there maybe energy or attitudes you give off to others that you may not notice or always be aware of. In order to successfully live within a group, individuals need to make themselves aware of the effect of the words and actions. They should also remain open to positive and constructive feedback. Hold yourself accountable, prepare for the consequences that may happen as a result of what you say or do.

It would also be wise to set clear boundaries and expectations within the group amongst all parties prior to jumping into a multifamily household arrangement. If you don’t do it before, it is still possible to complete but it is harder during versus prior. It’s imperative to set clear expectations and boundaries, to avoid unwarranted actions and words, especially when we are talking about sharing living arrangements. Every person is different, what may be okay for one can be unacceptable or inappropriate for the next.


In these unprecedented times, the combining of households in black America could be the difference between leveling up and repeating the same old cycles. As with all worthwhile thing, there will be obstacles and rejections. The success of the families, who choose to combine in effort to better the chances of a bright future, depends on their ability to communicate effectively. It’s certainly not the new thing to do, we’ve seen it in some of our favorite sitcoms; Family Matters, Living Single, and even a little in The Cosby Show. The dynamic is completely customizable.

Would you combine households with another family? Why or why not?

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