|I now have shelves of fossils on my walls.
There are a lot of things about moving in with a partner that you know in advance, but that you don't really know until you do it.
For example, I knew going into this that we had different ways of keeping things clean and different needs for quiet and personal space and different schedules. I knew that he was moving into my apartment, and so I had to be careful to make sure it felt like his space, too. I knew that I would have to be flexible and understanding and let things go and open up my life more than I ever have to someone. I knew all of this.
Then he moved in, and it turned out I didn't really know any of it. Because doing things is different than thinking about them in advance.
Learn from my mistakes:
If you are going to compromise in such a way that both of you are miserable, then don't. Let one person get their way. The other can disagree, even emphatically, but then they still commit to the plan. There is no point in two people being miserable, and if one person is actually happy, they might be able to do nice things for the other and lessen their misery a bit.
Expectations are so so evil. I realized later in the game that even though I thought everything through in advance, I still subconsciously expected him to move into my home and conform to my way of living. In my pictures of us living together, my schedules, routines, and standards were all gloriously unchanged, with the simple addition of another person. WRONG. After a couple of weeks of me trying to wrestle him into drinking more water, washing dishes at the "right" time, and eating breakfast with me, I finally learned to start letting go of the way I imagined it could be between us and let it be what it actually is, which is also pretty great.
Also, I remembered that if the bathroom counter has some hair on it, nobody will die. (Will they?)
Systematize! At least when it comes to housework, systems of responsibility automatically increased our bliss quotient. The more you have to think about doing something, the more it feels like work and the more it can be neglected or fought over. In a system, you've already decided and now you just have to execute.
Our main system is to alternate responsibility over the trash/recycling and the dishwasher - this month he's in charge of the dishwasher and I'm in charge of the garbage and recycling, next month we'll switch. This way when stuff gets left out, neither of us need to feel like we are being left to clean up after the other - we'll each do our jobs when we are able. Done. We also try to do other cleaning together, so that neither of us feel like we're doing "all the work."
You are a part of the problem. You know how your partner is messing everything up and it's all their fault and you're an innocent victim to their bad habits or inconsiderateness? This is actually a huge lie. I KNOW, right?!??
Turns out that a part of living with a partner is learning all the things that are wrong with you as a person, which is the kind of self-awareness nobody signed up for. I swear, before he moved in I was always a reasonable butterfly of perfection. Now, apparently, I can be kind of uptight and set in my ways and a little demanding? And I need to deal with these tendencies? What???
Be honest. Overall, The Man and I communicate really well, but we didn't really turn things around until we both admitted to each other that things were going really badly. Once we said that out loud, we were able to stop pretending things were okay and talk about the problems. Turns out you can't really address problems if you don't talk about them.
Sharing a home does NOT give them mind-reading powers. One of the things that was bugging me at first was that I felt like I was constantly doing things to take care of him, and that he wasn't doing the same for me. Then, one evening, he got home and I was already lying on the couch. I was tired and had a headache and was stressed. I told him so, and he proceeded to make dinner, bring me water and ibuprofen, and generally care for me. Suddenly a little light went on in my little head: oh freaking right, he can't take care of me if I don't let him know I need taking care of. Duh.
|This has nothing to do with anything, and probably reinforces gender
stereotypes I don't like, but it's also funny.
The lessons are obvious. Whether or not you are in a relationship, you are probably reading this and thinking, "OBVI! What is this, Intro to Relationships?" So I guess the biggest thing I learned is that you can know everything about relationships (none of this was a surprise to me, either) and then not know it at all when you are actually living it.
Sign up for my email newsletter for a weekly digest and BONUS CONTENT!